Friday, 1 April 2011


A new survey by African democracy institute Idasa shows growing dissatisfaction among SA citizens with local government performance, with only one in ten citizens satisfied with the quality of service delivery provided by their district and municipal council. This is a dramatic decline from its previous survey conducted in 2006 which showed four in ten citizens (39.5%) were still satisfied with service delivery by their local government.
The research report, “The State of Local Governance from a Citizen Perspective”, comes out weeks before the May local government elections and Idasa asks whether declining citizen satisfaction with local government performance might impact on the outcome of the poll.
Idasa questions why citizen satisfaction levels are declining sharply when access to basic services like water, electricity, housing, etc has remained more or less the same over the past four years, and even improved marginally in some cases.
The report on the state of local governance from a citizen’s perspective publishes the findings of an extensive citizen satisfaction survey financed by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
This report, from Idasa’s Local Governance Unit, was edited by Paul van Hoof with contributions from Bongani Qwabe, Marece Wenhold, Purity Mdaka, Sebastian Totwe, Mvuyisi April, Francis Kibirige, Josephine Dambudzo and Thina Nzo.
Idasa interviewed 2,375 adult South African citizens in 21 municipalities in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and North West province and offers three reasons to explain this decline in support.
The first reason is that the service delivery gap (the gap between what people expect and what government is realistically able to deliver) is increasing, not only because of population growth and international and national migration, but also because citizens expect the government to do more than before, which is partly caused or at least reinforced by politicians making unrealistic promises and thus raising expectations.
The second reason is the lack of responsiveness of the council to the issues identified by its citizens as most important to them, like inadequate water provision and lack of good local roads. This suggests many priorities are decided at national level, leaving councils with limited power to address their constituents’ priorities and weak consultation and participation processes.
The final reason is that citizens assess their local governments not only on the basis of poor service delivery, but also take into account weak communication, lack of transparency, increased corruption and nepotism.
“It will be very interesting to see how these perceptions inform the voting behaviour of citizens during the upcoming local government elections,” the authors said. “Will citizens reprove the sitting councillors who didn’t deliver enough in their eyes, will there be a shift in political preference as the most recently held by-elections indicated or will it result in a lower voter turnout as people might have lost confidence.”

No comments:

Post a Comment