Despite a recent spate of violent service delivery protests, a survey of 16 729 respondents in the Gauteng region has indicated that, with a few exceptions – most notably in Westonaria – over 70% of surveyed residents are “satisfied or very satisfied” with publicly provided dwellings, water supply, sanitation and waste removal.
“Although satisfaction levels differ by service and municipal area, the results are, on the whole, very positive,” Gauteng City Region Observatory executive director Professor David Everatt said at the launch of the 2013 State of the Gauteng City Region Review, at the University of Johannesburg, on Friday.
The survey provided an overview of the key dynamics and trends affecting the population, environment, economy and governance of the Gauteng City Region – described by Everatt as an integrated cluster of cities, towns and urban nodes that, together, comprised the “economic heartland” of South Africa.
While the core of the city-region was Gauteng, it included the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, as well as commercial, industrial and mining centres, such as Germiston, Springs, Alberton, Boksburg, Benoni, Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark, Krugersdorp, Randfontein and Westonaria.
Compiled in partnership between the University of Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand, and the Gauteng Provincial Government, the review found that some two-thirds of respondents were “satisfied or very satisfied” with energy services and roads, while around half were “satisfied or very satisfied” with health services and safety and security.
Surprisingly, however, while the overall satisfaction level for government services was high, the satisfaction rate for government, as a whole, was far lower.
In six of the ten municipalities polled, between 41% and 45% of respondents were "dissatisfied" with provincial government, while between 46% and 50% of respondents in the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality were "dissatisfied" with government.
In the remaining three municipalities of the city region, between 36% and 40% indicated dissatisfaction with provincial government.
Everatt attributed this disparity largely to poor government communication.
“Possibly, residents simply don’t know what government does for them. This is not to excuse government and blame public ignorance, but if residents really don’t know what they get from government, then poor government communication is at fault,” he noted.
Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane acknowledged this shortcoming on Friday, saying that government’s inability to communicate had exacerbated negative community perceptions around inherent corruption and had contributed to recent service delivery demonstrations.
“We need improved communication and humility from our politicians, who should not be driven by a political agenda with the sole objective of appeasing the electorate.
“As government, we must redouble our efforts to improve social cohesion and ensure that our leadership is informed and acts on credible data, as is provided by this review,” she said at the launch.
Mokonyane further confirmed that provincial government would leverage the information provided by the review in future planning initiatives.