Life in Gauteng is on the up ... well, sort of
Life may be improving for some, but it's certainly not a bed of roses if you're black, poor and a single parent
The administrators of SA’s economic hub have been provided a critical tool to help drastically improve the lives of millions of Gauteng residents.
The 2017-18 Quality of Life [QoL] survey, released at the University of Johannesburg on Tuesday, reveals exactly how satisfied Gauteng’s 14 million residents are and what they are griping about.
While showing an overall improvement in the quality of life of the province’s residents, it paints a grim picture when it comes to the faith Gautengers, especially Africans, have in the government delivering basic services.
A quarter of the 25,000 people surveyed witnessed protests in their communities last year, most of them over the lack of electricity and housing.
Conducted by the Gauteng City-Region Observatory [GCRO] urbanisation think tank, the biennial survey saw people across all of the province's 529 wards questioned over their satisfaction with their lives.
The GCRO was established as a partnership between the University of Johannesburg, Wits University and the Gauteng provincial government.
GCRO executive director Rob Moore told Times Select the data from their research projects was used in various ways to help local and provincial government in policy and decision making, and to gauge success in the implementation of initiatives.
“There is our ‘soft influence’ approach, such as through our research into the informal economy and aggression to foreigners, which helped inform the premier about the contribution migrants and the informal economy make to the province, which was used to help change people’s perceptions through roadshows.
“Then there is direct influence, such as through our vulnerability index, which shows where the province’s most vulnerable live. The Gauteng agriculture and rural development department used this to develop climate change strategies.”
The QoL survey is one of the biggest social attitudes surveys in sub-Saharan Africa, and looks at factors contributing to the quality of life, including access to, and satisfaction with, basic services, government and transport and mobility.
It also looks at people’s attitudes towards their livelihoods, neighbourhood and community, as well as family dynamics, race and gender relations, health and wellbeing and political and social values.
The survey shows whites are the most satisfied and have the highest quality of life, which the report says is “concerning as its suggests both persistence and deepening historical inequalities”, with “race remaining a key determiner of overall quality of life in Gauteng”.
When it comes to the provision of services, Tshwane has seen a drop in access to all basic services, while Ekurhuleni and then Johannesburg residents are the most satisfied.
The report’s key findings include:
• 44% of residents are satisfied with the provincial government’s performance, up from 39% in the 2015-16 survey;
• Satisfaction levels among Johannesburg [38%] and Tshwane [34%] residents has dropped, especially over billing, housing and services costs;
• Ekurhuleni residents’ satisfaction levels are at 43%;
• 64% of Emfuleni residents are dissatisfied, especially over waste services;
• 23% of Gauteng residents experience water cuts several times a month;
• 32% say crime is the biggest problem facing their community, followed by unemployment [18%] and drugs [12%];
• 38% of households with children have their kids on school feeding schemes;
• 21% of adults skip a meal at home because of a lack of money;
• 24% of parents send their oldest child to private schools;
• 9% of Gauteng residents are international migrants;
• More than half of Gauteng’s business owners operate in the informal sector;
• African and coloured residents think politics is a waste of time compared to their white and Asian compatriots; and
• More people are now prepared to pay e-Tolls.
The report reveals how Gauteng is riddled with myriad problems, with satisfaction mainly dropping because of a lack of housing from government, poor waste collection, billing and services costs, problems with water infrastructure and food security issues.
The report states: “This [the number of children on feeding schemes] is an indication of the increasing difficulty of acquiring sufficient amounts of food to feed households, and the growing socio-economic inequality in Gauteng.”
The researchers also discovered Gauteng has a huge number of broken families, with 33% of respondents not living with their children.
“This illustrates the ongoing impact of migration in the province, with many parents migrating from rural areas to find work, leaving their children in their rural homes in the care of relatives.”
Tshwane city spokesperson Selby Bokaba said the feedback was useful to planning and improving service delivery and addressing community concerns – and they took it seriously.
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said the survey provided useful insights into residents’ perceptions.
“The survey, conducted 18 months after the coalition government stepped into office, mirrors many inherited challenges faced by the city. We are under no illusions as to how much work remains ahead of us in terms of improving service delivery.”
Gauteng premier David Makhura said the survey was one of the most comprehensive instruments to measure citizens’ satisfaction and perceptions of governance in the province.
He said it showed sustained improvement in the quality of life.