Jobs, hous­ing, crime top vot­ers’ con­cerns

But the promi­nence of these is­sues varies con­sid­er­ably by prov­ince with to­tally dif­fer­ent is­sues

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - CRAIG DODDS

THE is­sues up­per­most in vot­ers’ minds in the com­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment polls will de­pend to a large ex­tent on the part of the coun­try in which they live, a sur­vey by Stats SA shows.

Na­tion­ally, the top five chal­lenges in mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to their res­i­dents, were: the lack of a safe and re­li­able water sup­ply; the lack of or in­ad­e­quate em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties; the cost of elec­tric­ity; in­ad­e­quate hous­ing; and vi­o­lence and crime – in that or­der.

But the promi­nence of these is­sues var­ied con­sid­er­ably by prov­ince, with con­cerns about a safe and re­li­able water sup­ply not fea­tur­ing at all for house­holds in Gaut­eng and the West­ern Cape, while it was the num­ber one con­cern in Lim­popo (43.9 per­cent of re­spon­dents), North West ( 33.4 per­cent), Mpumalanga ( 30.6 per­cent), KwaZulu- Natal ( 23 per­cent), East­ern Cape ( 22.7 per­cent), Free State (20.8 per­cent) and North­ern Cape (17.3 per­cent).

By con­trast, the cost of elec­tric­ity was the dom­i­nant con­cern of Gaut­eng (16.2 per­cent) and West­ern Cape (18.7 per­cent) res­i­dents, while not fea­tur­ing among the top five con­cerns in the Free State and North West, and con­cern­ing only 12.4 per­cent of res­i­dents in the North­ern Cape, 12.1 per­cent in KwaZulu-Natal, 8.8 per­cent in the East­ern Cape, 7 per­cent in Mpumalanga and 4.7 per­cent in Lim­popo.

Scarcity of jobs was a con­cern com­mon to all prov­inces, on the other hand, fea­tur­ing most strongly in KwaZulu-Natal (14.4 per­cent), Free State (13.8 per­cent), and Mpumalanga and Gaut­eng, both at 13.2 per­cent.

Yet the Com­mu­nity Sur­vey 2016 showed there has been con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment in the qual­ity of ser­vices and stan­dards of liv­ing for all South Africans, de­spite the bleak eco­nomic per­for­mance and ris­ing un­em­ploy­ment of the past few years.

For ex­am­ple, the num­ber of house­holds liv­ing in for­mal hous­ing has in­creased steadily, from a low of 65.1 per­cent in 1996, through 77.6 per­cent in 2011, to 79.2 per­cent in the lat­est sur­vey, con­ducted in March and sam­pling about 1.3 mil­lion house­holds.

Ris­ing af­flu­ence is also ev­i­dent in the in­crease in the num­ber of house­holds own­ing their homes and hav­ing paid off the bond (54.7 per­cent in 2016, com­pared to 41.3 per­cent in 2001), and own­er­ship of elec­tronic goods like fridges (81.8 per­cent in 2016 com­pared to 68.4 per­cent in 2011), stoves (84.4 per­cent com­pared to 77 per­cent) and tele­vi­sions (83.4 per­cent com­pared to 74.5 per­cent).

Strik­ingly, the sur­vey sug­gests that these new TV own­ers are also flock­ing to satel­lite, with 41.4 per­cent of house­holds now own­ing a DStv de­coder, com­pared to 25.8 per­cent in 2011.

Sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments are re­flected in ac­cess to flush­ing toi­lets con­nected to sew­er­age (60.6 per­cent com­pared to 49.1 per­cent in 2001), ac­cess to piped water (from 9 mil­lion house­holds in 1996 to 16.9 mil­lion in 2016), and use of elec­tric­ity for cook­ing(82.7 per­cent in 2016 com­pared to 47.4 per­cent in 1996).

The av­er­age num­ber of mem­bers of a house­hold has also de­clined, from 4.5 mem­bers per house­hold in 1996 to 3.3 in 2016, as the to­tal num­ber of house­holds has in­creased, from 9 mil­lion in 1996 to 16.9 mil­lion to­day – in­di­cat­ing a trend to­wards smaller house­holds on av­er­age.

Ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and high­est level of ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment have also im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly with 17.2 mil­lion at­tend­ing an ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion this year, com­pared to 12.8 mil­lion in 1996, and 1.23 mil­lion hav­ing ob­tained at least a bach­e­lor’s de­gree, com­pared to 410 686 in 1996.

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