When it comes the issue of service delivery in South Africa, there seems to be two schools of thought: those who applaud the ANC government for the strides they have made in the last 20 years of democracy and those who are disappointed and disgusted that 20 years in there are people that still have to use the bucket system as a form of sanitation.
While both parties are correct in their contemplations, I am of the opinion that one is more correct than the other. If one had enquired of me at the beginning of 2013 what my thoughts were on the subject I would have, without skipping a beat or pausing for breath, loudly proclaimed that the ANC is a disastrous institution whose failures were resulting in a tougher life for all citizens. That the corruption that is so deeply entrenched in the system was going to be the downfall of what was the greatest political party SA has ever known. So convinced was I that quality of life for black people had deteriorated since the ANC took over, and even at times agreed with those that proclaimed that life was better under apartheid rule.
But with much humility I now change my tune. While it is true that there is a lot that still needs to be done by the current government to warrant a lot of disappointment and negative reviews one has to take a step back and look at what the expectations are of the institution. In an opinion piece by Khaya Dlanga in the Mail and Guardian on the same issue, he makes a very pertinent point that while the apartheid government was praised for its efficiency in service delivery, one has to realise and never forget that that government was only catering for a very small section of the country. All their efforts and resources were catering for about a tenth of the population. In that regard, it is very easy and quite possible to provide nothing but the best. The current government, however is now responsible for servicing 100% of the population – a mammoth 52,98 million and counting, which compared to the 4,5 million white people that were priority in the dark days, is a huge task.
While this in no way exonerates President Jacob Zuma and his band of merry men and women from their shortcomings of which there are many, there have been significant achievements that have provided a better life for all and that need to be applauded without reservations.
Just to recap, these are the achievements made by the ANC since they took over the reins: -
- By 2012 the ANC had built 3.3 million houses benefiting 16 million people.
- A total of 16 million of our people now get support and assistance from their government.
- Six million households have gained access to clean water since 1994 and electricity has been connected to nearly five million homes.
- In 1994, only 62% of households had access to clean drinking water, in 2012 this had increased to 93%.
- In 1994, only 50% of households had access to decent sanitation, in 2012 the number increased to 77%.
- In 1994, only 36% of South Africans had access to electricity – in 2012 it was 84%. Today the majority of our people are provided free basic services in water and electricity. In his end of year statement to the nation in 2014, President Zuma shared the following figures:-
- To date, 2,7 million South Africans are on antiretroviral treatment, which has improved life expectancy. A total of 3 590 public health facilities are now initiating patients on antiretroviral treatment compared to 490 in February 2010.
- There has been a remarkable 67% reduction of mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 8% in 2008 to 2,6% in 2012.
- Within the first 100 days of this fifth administration, 45 schools were completed. Eighty-one schools were provided with sanitation, 58 with electrification and 88 with water.
- In addition to three new universities being established in Gauteng, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga, 16 sites have been identified for the construction of 12 new Technical and Vocational Education and Training College campuses.
- To date more than 11 million households have been connected with electricity, double the number of households with access to electricity in 1994. From April to October this year,
- 131 089 electricity connections were concluded.
- Government also facilitated electrical connections to boreholes in Ngobi village near Hammanskraal, ensuring safe water supply to 1261 households, benefitting about 5 000 people
- This year, the number of bucket toilets eradicated in the five most affected provinces are as follows: Free State 6 021, Limpopo 777, Eastern Cape 1 675, North West 379 and Northern Cape 2694.
- In October, we celebrated the provision of water to 55 villages in Giyani in Limpopo and for a total of 16 200 households in Umkhanyakude District in KwaZulu-Natal. For the first time in 30 years, they will get water from Jozini Dam.
Its easy to sit in our middle and upper class luxury and decry the failings of the ANC but if you were to take a walk in the shoes of a man who was previously living in abject apartheid squalor, with no running water, sanitation, electricity or the prospects of education for his kids you would realise that the ANC was and still is changing peoples lives for the better and taking that away from them because of their other failings is a gross injustice.