Evaluating Zuma’s claims about service delivery
11 September 2012 | The Citizen
So, too, did his ritual blaming of apartheid, where he said many of today’s problems are based on “deep-seated challenges created by the past”.
Obviously this defensiveness by the president arises against the background of the ANC’s elective conference in December.
Zuma, feeling he is being unfairly accused of non-delivery, chose an SA Local Government Association conference as the forum to set the record straight.
In doing so he received support yesterday from the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), which said Zuma is quite correct to identify the success of the government’s local delivery efforts.
Drawing on data published by the SAIRR between 1996 and 2010, the institute’s Frans Cronje says, for example, that the number of households living in formal houses increased from 5.8 million to 11 million, or by 89.9%. Over the same period the proportion of all households living in a formal house increased from 64% to 76%.
There are also positive numbers when it comes to households with access to electricity (up 127.9%) and those with access to piped water (up 76.6%). And so on.
In order to get an accurate picture it would be helpful to compile a much longer checklist of indices and then to rate performance over time.
Also useful would be geographic comparisons. In light of reports about “Zumaville” it is reasonable to speculate that infrastructure development at Zuma’s home town of Nkandla is more generous than that in many other parts of South Africa, for instance.
We noted earlier that there are an average of four “service delivery” protests in South Africa daily.
Cronje says there is no contradiction between these and the positive picture he has painted.
“These protests are not a function of the failure of delivery but rather of its success in that this success has raised expectations that cannot be met because of shortcomings in the school system and the labour market.”
Certainly schooling is dysfunctional.
The interminable Limpopo textbook crisis is but one example of a system that is not working properly in many parts of the country. In the latest World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index the quality of SA’s education system is ranked 140th out of 144.
When it comes to the quality of maths and science education, SA is placed 143rd.
That’s not through lack of spending.
Health is another failure. When grading the incidence of tuberculosis, SA is placed 143rd. On the effect of HIV and Aids on business, SA is 135th.
Some surveys do not factor in corruption, where Zuma has a special place. Surely South Africa would be doing better if billions were not stolen by crooks.
Making sense of this plethora of information is not a simple matter.
But Zuma shouldn’t try to use this in his re-election campaign.
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