Residents don't trust government - survey

Johannesburg - Residents of Gauteng are happy with service delivery but have no faith and trust in the people elected to lead them, a survey released on Thursday found.

"People just don't want efficient government, they want a clean and transparent government that is approachable," Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) executive director Professor David Everatt said.

"The answer to improved satisfaction with government was not just more RDP housing and more basic service connections."

Everatt was releasing the results of a survey conducted on the quality of life in Gauteng.

The survey found that while the economy was picking up post-recession and service delivery was doing well, the social fabric was under strain and personal alienation as well as mistrust of government was exceptionally high.

"Socio-political issues are very prominent as challenging issues: declining social capital, rising xenophobia, mistrust of officials and elected representatives, fear of corruption."

Everatt said government was faced with a challenge of winning back people's trust; and helping people to reach out to each other.

The GCRO, a partnership between the University of Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand, the Gauteng government, and the SA Local Government Association, conducted a study with over 25 000 people to gauge satisfaction levels with governance.

The study found that there was an increase across the board in all municipalities in Gauteng regarding the provision of housing, water and sanitation, energy, roads, safety, and health.

"In general satisfaction with services is high. Very high for dwelling and household infrastructure services. On an index of eight services, satisfaction has also increased between 2011 and 2013," said Everatt.

Only 37% happy

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said he noted the dissatisfaction with government raised by respondents and said it was something that had to be addressed.

He said the fact that only 40% were satisfied with provincial government while only 37% were happy with their municipality was worrying.

"This is a very important finding. It says that our people have not been properly informed about what each sphere of government does for them and we need to pay greater attention to communicating our success..." he said.

It could also mean that those who had their needs met were expecting more from government than just the delivery of basic services.

"And we need to listen more carefully to those expectations," he said.

The increase in the number of respondents who believed government was corrupt and that corruption tainted democracy was a matter which had to be addressed urgently.

"In 2011, 84% of the respondents had agreed that corruption is the main threat to our democracy. In 2013 it is now 89%. Addressing corruption and also the perception that communities have of government that everything we do is tainted by corruption is very important," he said.

‘An accurate picture’

Salga Gauteng chairperson Parks Tau welcomed the survey and said it provided a proper picture of what was going on in each of the municipal wards in the province.

At least 60 respondents per ward were sampled in each metropolitan municipality and 30 per ward in local municipalities.

"This is enough for us to get an accurate picture of development and attitudes in each ward. And in turn it gives us a differentiated picture across the province," Tau said.

Municipalities across the province provided funding for the study, a move Tau lauded.

He said their participation was a commitment and pledge to stop competing and rather work together to build the province.

"It says let us stop competing with one another as a province and local, or between municipalities and rather work together for the good of the whole region. Emfuleni's problems are not only Emfuleni's, they affect Johannesburg," he said.

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