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Fast facts at your fin­ger­tips

Public Sector Manager - - Contents -

If South Africa was a sub­urb of 100 house­holds, 22 would be ben­e­fi­cia­ries of gov­ern­ment's in­di­gent pro­gramme. Sta­tis­tics South Africa's re­cent non-fi­nan­cial cen­sus of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties pro­vides in­sight into those house­holds that strug­gle to af­ford ac­cess to ba­sic ser­vices.

In 2001, South Africa adopted a pol­icy in­tended for the pro­vi­sion of free ba­sic ser­vices to poor house­holds. Un­der this pol­icy, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were tasked to iden­tify in­di­gent house­holds that would re­ceive ser­vices – such as wa­ter and elec­tric­ity – for free or at sub­stan­tially sub­sidised rates.

South Africa's 257 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties reg­is­tered 3.51 mil­lion in­di­gent house­holds in 2017.That's about one in ev­ery five or 22 per­cent of the coun­try's 16.2 mil­lion house­holds that are clas­si­fied as in­di­gent.

House­holds are re­quired to reg­is­ter with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to qual­ify for free ba­sic ser­vices.A mu­nic­i­pal­ity's role is to vet ev­ery ap­pli­ca­tion, se­lect­ing only those house­holds that meet var­i­ous cri­te­ria. Suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants are granted in­di­gent sta­tus.

eThek­wini is home to about

627 000 in­di­gent house­holds, com­pris­ing 18 per­cent of the na­tional tally.

Tsh­wane has the sec­ond high­est num­ber (474 035 house­holds), fol­lowed by Cape Town (213 424 house­holds) and Johannesburg (178 599 house­holds).

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties de­ter­mine their own cri­te­ria for iden­ti­fy­ing and reg­is­ter­ing in­di­gents.To a large ex­tent, this de­ter­mi­na­tion is based on the re­sources avail­able to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

In 2017, most mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties (147 out of 257) clas­si­fied an in­di­gent house­hold as a fam­ily earn­ing a com­bined in­come of less than R3 200 per month. Eleven mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties (nine lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and two district mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties) adopted a lower in­come poverty thresh­old of R1 600 per house­hold per month.

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can also de­cide on the ex­tent to which they sub­sidise an in­di­gent house­hold. The gen­eral rule is that in­di­gent house­holds are en­ti­tled to 6 kl of free wa­ter per house­hold per month and 50 kWh of free elec­tric­ity per house­hold per month. The ex­tent to which san­i­ta­tion and refuse re­moval ser­vices are sub­sidised varies from mu­nic­i­pal­ity to mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

With over half of South Africa's pop­u­la­tion in poverty, and the econ­omy in re­ces­sion in the first half of 2018, the in­di­gent pro­gramme con­tin­ues to be a vi­tal life­line for the 22 per­cent of house­holds that would oth­er­wise not have had ac­cess to ba­sic ser­vices.

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