Government accountability in the spotlight of new governance survey

2016-02-29 18:45

Johannesburg – A total of 54% of people questioned by Good Governance Africa in its survey on local and national government believe government accountability is to some extent satisfactory, with 14.3% thinking government was completely accountable and 39.7% saying it was partially accountable.

The survey, in its first question, asked people how sensitive and accountable to the nation they thought government was. 

The results of the survey, published in Good Governance Africa's bi-monthly journal, Africa in Fact, showed 21.6% of the respondents agreed "government only really represents the interests of a small political class" while 24.3% said the current government was "even less accountable and sensitive" to the needs people than the old apartheid government was.

Almost 46% of respondents were disillusioned with government accountability to the public and felt it hardly existed at all.

The survey was conducted between August 24 and September 30 last year.

Mood 'sour and difficult'

A total of 2 245 people took part in it across race, gender, province and other key variables. Good Governance Africa said it was clear at the time the survey was conducted the "public mood was sour and difficult".

"The survey was conducted... at a time of some national disillusion provoked in particular by the decline of economic growth and the consequent rise in unemployment," it said.

But Good Governance Africa said no inferences should be drawn from the data that the respondents had necessarily changed their political party affiliation and it did not ask a question about party choice.

Respondents were also analysed by race.

Among black respondents 60.3% found government partially and completely accountable, though 15.1% thought it completely accountable.

However, 21.2% said government really represented only a small political class and 18.4% said government was even less accountable to the people than the apartheid government had been.

Almost 40% of black respondents fell into the "radically disillusioned group", according to the results of the survey.

In the minority groups, whites were found to be less disillusioned than coloureds or Asians.

According to the survey, 70.2% coloureds were in the "radically disillusioned" group along with 68.7% of Asians and 67.4% of whites.

Respondents were also asked questions about the economy, service delivery and government performance to name a few.

Here are the results:

Why was the economy not faring well?

A total of 12.4% of respondents accepted government's explanation that "people in government are generally competent and not corrupt. Other factors have caused the economy to falter".

This was compared to 78.7% who believed that people in government were incompetent and corrupt and were to blame for the poor state of the economy.

Is government trying its best to deliver services?

A total of 17.1% of respondents thought the current government was trying its best to deliver goods and services to everyone and that under it service delivery had improved, while 32.4% said service delivery was not very good despite government's good efforts.

Another 32% said service delivery was not good because government did not really care about the masses. The remaining 16.2% said service delivery was worse under the current government that under apartheid.

Is government law-abiding?

Overall the survey found that 44.2% of respondents agreed that government itself observed the law and made sure the police did the same and protected citizens, but 49.6% disagreed.

Are the people heard?

A total of 56.2% agreed with the statement that "people are giving up hope that the government will listen to them", while 29.7% disagreed.

According to the survey this opinion was strongly held by young voters aged 16-24 or the so-called "born frees". 

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