Basic needs must

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Twenty years into democracy, despite many service delivery issues and challenges, there is some good work in progress.

One of the promises made by former president Nelson Mandela as he led South Africa into democracy, was a better life for all. At the core of improved living for citizens, service delivery remains one of local government’s most central responsibilities.

President Jacob Zuma commented earlier this year that service delivery protests are not simply the result of government. “However, the protests are not simply the result of failures of government […] but also of the success in delivering basic services. When 95% of households have access to water, the 5% who still need to be provided for feel they cannot wait a moment longer. Success is also the breeding ground of rising expectations.”

Zuma’s quote is indeed paradoxical when we consider that 92% of South Africans now have access to water as opposed to only 60% in 1996. Comparing municipal performance is not always an easy task, considering that each has its unique social makeup and own set of issues. The latest figures released by the South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SACSI), however, show that the City of Cape Town is, according to SACSI’s research, the best run municipality in the country with a score of 71.6 – 17.8% higher than the national average of 60.6.

Looking at the latest Municipal IQ report, a specialised local government data and intelligence service, we get a broad glimpse covering many aspects of delivery achievement based on spending patterns and how it reinforces and affects socio-economic contexts registered on its Municipal Productivity Index (MPI™). The MPI indexes five factors: poverty levels and how well a municipality responds to poverty; access to basic municipal services; economic ‘intelligence’; financial governance and expenditure levels; and vacancy rates within any particular municipality.

The report published in November last year indicates that Gauteng and the Western Cape score the highest on their indexes.
Kevin Allan, managing director of Municipal IQ, notes: “The high scores of Gauteng and Western Cape municipalities as productive environments explain why they are the destination for migrants.

This implies pressure for the cities and metros in these provinces. While urbanisation is a natural trajectory for developing countries, it is critical that municipal managers, in compliance with the vision of the National Development Plan, ensure that city development be as inclusive as possible”.

Karen Heese, economist at Municipal IQ, argues: “The relative success of South African cities in providing productive environments does not mean that rural development should slip from the developmental agenda. Capacity challenges weighing down Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal municipalities mean that they continue to cluster at the bottom end of MPI scores, especially in the case of rural areas, but also increasingly in former homeland areas. Conditions in these environments cannot be allowed to deteriorate, as urbanisation needs to take place at a sustainable rate if cities are to continue functioning optimally.”

The latest report findings, however, indicate that scores on the index show Gauteng municipalities outperform the Western Cape average, bolstered by the combined strength of Gauteng’s three metros, notwithstanding top Western Cape performers. The Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal continue to score the lowest average, with the Free State being the only province to deteriorate from 2012.

According to the report, “Top metros continue to fall within a close range of each other, but Cape Town comes ahead with strong performance on financial governance, which also bolsters eThekwini’s score. Johannesburg’s robust economy ensures its second place. Mangaung is the only metro to see a deteriorating score from last year, while Buffalo City improved its score, if not ranking, from 2012.”

In addition to the MPI results, the report includes the Municipal IQ Hotspots Monitor which contributes to understanding and debate surrounding (municipal) service delivery protests. The Monitor identifies where service delivery protests have taken place since 2004. The report indicated a decrease in violent service delivery protest from 77.5% in 2012 to 70.2% in 2013.

“Gauteng was narrowly ahead of the Eastern Cape as the most protest-ridden province for the first ten months of 2013. The Western Cape (excluding provincially targeted ‘poo’ protests), the Free State, North West and Mpumalanga all receded (after showing prominence in previous years and over the aggregated 2004-13 time period). KwaZulu-Natal featured prominently in protest activity – not only in eThekwini but also further afield in smaller towns and rural areas,” according to the mentioned report.

Allan and Heese do, however, state that, “although service delivery protests are commonly perceived as an indication of a failure of local government, Municipal IQ has found a strong link between municipal productivity (a measure of local government success) and service delivery protests”.

Looking at some specific examples, Brand SA CEO Miller Matola’s recent report on the City of Johannesburg’s performance over the past 20 years of democracy illustrates local government’s hard-earned contribution and continued efforts to improve the lives of its citizens.

“Last year saw the introduction of a Developmental Service Delivery Model as a new approach to addressing poverty, inequality and unemployment and empower citizens. This approach – now called Jozi@ Work – focuses on building human capabilities to meet the City’s needs and build local economies. This model is about involving citizens to provide maintenance, community and social services in partnership with the City. Through the provision of these services, new and existing entrepreneurs will be empowered and jobs will be created,” Matola says.

He further mentions that in terms of healthcare, the City of Johannesburg has made significant gains in healthcare provision to the almost 3.8 million people who walk into the 80 fixed satellite and mobile clinics every year.“The transmission rate of HIV from mother to child has decreased from 3.2% in 2010 to only 1.5% in February 2014. More than 96.1% of children under the age of one now benefit from immunisation coverage, which is substantially above the national target of 90%.

“Last month saw the opening of new, state-of-the-art clinics at Slovoville and Freedom Park, bringing essential healthcare services closer to residents who previously had to travel as far as Coronationville and Leratong. These achievements indicate that Joburg is a city at work, building better communities together with its partners.”
Matola also highlights energy demands and initiatives in his report, saying that, on the environmental front, the City has continued to increase its efforts to combat climate change and conserve finite resources while guaranteeing security of supply of water and energy for its residents.

“On the environmental front, the City has continued to increase its efforts to combat climate change and conserve finite resources while guaranteeing security of supply of water and energy for its residents. The 43 000 solar water heaters installed by City Power collectively generate the equivalent of 22.5 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year – enough to run a small town or part of a suburban area. The installation of 42 000 smart meters, geyser control systems and energy efficiency programmes, all of which are ongoing, will continue to enhance energy efficiency.

“The City is also developing biogas-to-energy plants at its wastewater treatment plants to mitigate climate change and reduce energy costs. Concerns about the growth in water demand brought on by continuing rapid urbanisation have led to the introduction of water-saving devices in the City’s own housing developments, together with encouraging private developers to introduce conservation measures such as rainwater harvesting, the use of groundwater through borehole drilling and utilising treated effluent for irrigation purposes.

The process has started to replace 143km of water pipes and implement pressure management as part of a three-year 900km refurbishment of water pipes. This will reduce technical water losses from leaks and pipe bursts.”

He indicates that the City is currently reviewing its bylaws and tariff policies to incentivise and promote water conservation by its citizens and that the diversion of waste away from landfills also remains a key priority.“Separation at Source initiatives are currently being rolled out in Waterval, Zondi, Diepsloot, Orange Farm, Central Camp, Marlboro and Southdale. A total of 470 000 households are targeted for participation in the programme.

“All of these achievements over the past 20 years underpin the City of Joburg’s commitment to build a better place for all its residents and businesses – Jozi truly is a City at Work,” Matola concludes.The City of Cape Town, South Africa’s highest scoring municipality according the SACSI, is another example of a South African metro that is achieving good success in terms of service delivery.

The City’s Water and Sanitation Department recently received an accolade for its water conservation and water demand management at a Department of Water Affairs awards event held in October last year.The City won in the category for Metropolitan and District Municipalities for its unique interventions to the benefit of Cape Town. These include:
Major and minor pressure management projects which sustainably reduce system water losses, pipe bursts and internal leaks; and prolong the reticulation life span, thus saving the City water and money.

The current total annual savings for existing projects are approximately 3.73 million m³ of water, which equates to around R31 million per year.Retrofitting and leak fixing in Samora Machel, Ravensmead and Fisantekraal. The average water saving achieved with this project was approximately 10kl/month per targeted area and a financial saving of between R1.2 and R1.7 million per year per targeted area.

The Water Education Consumer Perception Assessment Project which was done by the Water Conservation Section as part of the Mayoral Expanded Public Works Programme to ensure the application of the most efficient education and awareness strategy, to achieve maximum water savings.

“We are extremely proud of this significant achievement which recognises the contribution of the City of Cape Town to the water sector and the leading role that it plays to take care of our life-preserving and finite resource. Congratulations to the Water and Sanitation Department for their dedication and commitment to ensure that the City meets its desired objectives as a Well-run and Caring City,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg, at the function.

The Southern African Housing Federation awarded the City of Cape Town’s Human Settlements Directorate for its Happy Valley development project, naming it Low Cost Housing Project of the Year.
“The Happy Valley Project was seen as an example of how an informal area can be successfully converted into a formal housing area. There were originally approximately 1 500 informal structures on the land, and these were replaced with 1 452 formal houses for identified beneficiaries. The occupants of the informal dwellings had to be relocated to transit areas during the construction phase,” according to the municipality.

The project cost R185 million and was carried out as part of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme. It was jointly funded by the City of Cape Town and the Provincial Government of the
Western Cape.

“The City is delighted at this wonderful achievement. Despite challenging project and community dynamics, we have been able to provide a superior product to the Happy Valley community. This is what our work is all about – creating communities in which the people of Cape Town can flourish,” says Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, Councillor Tandeka Gqada.

Service delivery may be one of our most protested and criticised topics in local government, but looking at the evidence, our municipalities are indeed making good progress.

Though comparison may not always be easy, the fact remains that 20 years into democracy our citizens are more vocal than ever in expressing their needs, and local government is responding with projects and solutions that intend to deliver.

Michael Meiring

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Issue 68