Gaut­eng qual­ity of life up

In­equal­ity threat to re­cent gains

Sowetan - - News - By Sowe­tan Re­porter

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.

/ VELI NHLAPO

Gaut­eng premier David Makhura.

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