Gauteng quality of life up
Inequality threat to recent gains
A meaningful land reform programme coupled with access to quality education are two of the major measures that could deal a heavy blow to the cycle of poverty and inequality in Gauteng.
Premier David Makhura said this while delivering his fifth political report last week Friday at the provincial legislature in Johannesburg.
“The equitable redistribution of land and access to education and skills are some of the more potent instruments which could reverse inequality and inter-generational poverty,” said Makhura in the report that detailed progress made by the provincial government over the past four years.
His comments come as the size of the public education system has doubled from 1.2 million learners in 1994 to 2.4 million learners this year.
The provincial government has also bumped up access to Early Childhood Development in the past four years, from 83 000 children to 483 000 children while also channelling resources in expanding access to education for 48 180 learners with special educational needs.
Makhura added that in the past four-and-half-years, his government built strategic partnership with the private sector “through industry action labs” that focused on various industries and sectors.
The premier, however, lamented the fact that the rise in inequality was threatening to overshadow the positive strides made.
“Although inequality declined from 0.75 to 0.70 between 2000 and 2009, the last decade has seen a sharp increase in inequality. Many data shows that the Africans and those classified as coloured continue to lag behind their white counterparts,” he said.
Makhura’s statement was backed by findings from research organisation Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO), which recently conducted a study on the quality of life in the province.
The research showed that the quality of life for all the people of Gauteng has generally improved.
During an interview with Sowetan this week, GCRO executive director Rob Moore said: “The quality of life survey found that over 90% of 28 167 respondents who were interviewed for the research have access to piped water in their dwelling or yard, adequate sanitation, and electricity for lighting.
“At the provincial level, access has been fairly consistent over time. However, at the municipal level there have been a number of shifts since 2015/2016. There is evidence of improvements in access to water in Merafong, Lesedi and Rand West, and a clear improvement in water, sanitation and electricity in Midvaal. By contrast, access to all basic services has dropped in Tshwane.”
He said unemployment, crime and drugs were the biggest source of concern for black communities.
“The 2017/2018 data does reveal a substantial drop in those respondents saying they had weekly municipal refuse collection. While
88% of respondents reported weekly refuse collection in 2015/16, this has dropped to 83% in 2017/18. There has been a particularly notable decrease in Emfuleni, with only
57% of respondents now reporting weekly refuse removal compared to 80% in the last survey.
“The observation is that though everybody is reporting slight improvement in their quality of life, improvements for whites and Indians are much stronger than for blacks and coloureds. Their sense of quality of life lags significantly behind whites and Indians,” Moore said. Moore said despite continued high levels of population and household growth in Gauteng, the survey showed that levels of access to services have remained stable. Makhura added that the pro-poor fiscal policies and antipoverty programmes of the national and provincial government have seen poverty declining from 10.5% in 2001 to 4.6% in 2016. “There are 1.3 million people who are food insecure who receive food packages from the provincial government due to more acute levels of urban poverty and hunger, especially certain households in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Sedibeng, West Rand and northern areas of Tshwane,” said the premier in his report.
He said many of those who participated in the research worried the most about unemployment, crime, drugs and alcohol abuse.
The cumulative developmental impact of all the investments being made in education, health, housing and basic services can been seen in the sustained improvement in the human development index (HDI) and quality of life index (QOLI), both of which are borne out by research.
Gauteng has an above-average HDI of 0.71 and sustained improvement in the Quality of Life Index from 6.02 in 2011 to 6.30 in 2017/18. Although inequality declined from 0.75 to 0.70 between 2000 and 2009, the last decade has seen a sharp increase in inequality.
Makhura also spoke about the importance of sport in building social cohesion.
“The people of our province love sport. They love arts and culture. They love athletics. They run. They walk. They cycle. They jog. They go to music festivals and dance. I have seen them at the Social Cohesion Carnival; at the stadia watching soccer, rugby or cricket; at marathons, festivals and cycling events. They love events that bring them together across the colour line,” Makhura said.
He also spoke about some of the key initiatives that he introduced to improve governance in the province over the past four-and-a-half years.
“We introduced several ground-breaking reforms and initiatives as part of the TMRNtirhisano Rapid Response System and Community Outreach programme; Integrity Management and Good Governance; Open Tender Process and the drive for clean audits and accountability.
“Ntirhisano has changed the way government works. Through the more than 80 community engagements and proactive site visits, we have been able to keep more regular contact with communities.
“Ntirhisano has also forced government departments to be community-oriented by ensuring that issues for public meetings and site visits form part of the annual performance plans of departments and budgets.
“What makes me happy is that more than 80% of the issues raised by communities are in the process of being resolved, while progress has been much slower with municipal and national government-related issues.
“There is now evidence from the Quality of Life surveys that the performance rating of the provincial government by Gauteng residents has steadily been improving since 2015/16.
“In particular, the 2017/18 survey reveals that satisfaction with government is at its highest level of 45% since 2011, while national government is at 43% and local government is at 39%.
“It is my considered view that Ntirhisano has contributed strongly to the improvement in satisfaction with the provincial government. However, it is a serious weakness that we are often unable to go to community as the whole-ofgovernment to go listen to, engage with and resolve community concerns. We must fix this weakness for the sake of the citizens.”
The last decade has seen a sharp increase in inequality
The provincial government is channelling resources into expanding access to education across all sectors.
Gauteng premier David Makhura.