Municipal census reveals severe lack of service delivery

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Communities in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal benefited the most from water services last year, while those in the Western Cape benefited the least.

This was revealed in a census report released by Statistician-General and head of Stats SA Risenga Maluleke during a media briefing at the Government Communication and Information System offices in Pretoria this morning.

Maluleke’s office released the report from the annual non-financial census of municipalities relating to selected services provided between 2017 and last year.

The census seeks to provide information that could serve as a framework for policymakers for planning and monitoring purposes.

According to the report, the highest increase in water provision was recorded in Mpumalanga, with an increase of 6.4%, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 6.1%. The Western Cape recorded the lowest increase – 1.8%.

Community members fill water buckets from a communal tap in a village outside Senwabarwana in Limpopo. Picture: Leon Sadiki

In terms of electricity supply increases, Limpopo topped provinces with 7.5%, followed by the Eastern Cape with 6.5%, while the Free State recorded 0.9% and Gauteng came in at 1%, making them the provinces that provide the least power to communities.

With regard to sewerage and sanitation, the Eastern Cape recorded 6.2% and Mpumalanga recorded 5.4%, while the Western Cape had 1.2% and KwaZulu-Natal had 2%.

For refuse removal, communities in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape benefited the most, with records of 6.4% and 3.2%, respectively. Limpopo recorded a 2.9% increase.

According to the report, the highest increase in water provision was recorded in Mpumalanga, with an increase of 6.4%, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 6.1%.

The census report states that “Mogalakwena Local Municipality and Elias Motsoaledi Local Municipality mainly contributed to the decrease in the provision of solid waste management due to a lack of resources and insufficient trucks. As a result, these municipalities stopped providing this service in rural areas, and focused only on consumer units that paid rates and taxes.”

The census also revealed that, between the 2017 and 2018 financial years, free basic services provided to consumers decreased. These included water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal.

The breakdown of figures in provision of free basic services by municipalities show that:


  • 661 275 fewer consumer units received water last year compared with 2017;
  • 600 815 fewer consumer units received sewage removal services and sanitation last year compared with 2017;
  • 246 349 fewer consumer units received electricity last year compared with 2017; and
  • 160 970 fewer consumer units received solid waste management services last year compared with 2017.

According to last year’s estimates, the census reveals that there were 3.6 million indigent households identified by municipalities.

“Out of this total, 2.8 million indigent households benefited from the indigent support system for water, while 2 million benefited from free basic electricity provided by municipalities,” read the census report.

The report further reveals that “1.8 million indigent households benefited from the indigent support system for sewerage and sanitation, and 2.3 million indigent households benefited from the indigent support system for solid waste management”.


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