/ SAcsi

Municipalities again fall far short of citizen expectations

Tshwane and Johannesburg improve, Cape Town scores 10.1 higher than average

Consumers of municipal services across eight of the largest SA metropolitan municipalities have again given them the lowest satisfaction score measured in the SAcsi at 61.8 out of 100, up slightly from last year’s score of 60.8. This is according to the South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) released today.

The score is significantly lower than the average satisfaction scores across 14 private sector industries reported by SAcsi this year. SAcsi is a national economic indicator of customer satisfaction with products and services available to household consumers in South Africa.

The SAcsi surveyed 3059 residents in a randomly selected, sample comprising residents in the major municipal districts of Cape Town, eThekwini, Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Nelson Mandela Bay, Mangaung and Buffalo City.

Overall, Cape Town scored significantly higher than the average at 71.9 while eThekwini scored 3.6 points higher than the municipal average at 65.4 out of 100. Tshwane and Johannesburg scored on par with the average at 61.5 (2014: 57.4) and 60.2 (2014: 57.5) respectively. All the other measured municipal districts scored below industry par: Ekurhuleni (58.3), Nelson Mandela Bay (51.8), Mangaung (51.5) and Buffalo City (47.1).

Prof. Adré Schreuder, founder of SAcsi and CEO of Consulta, says that the there have been some interesting movements in the citizen satisfaction score. “Overall the national trust index score is slightly higher this year at 65.1, which means that citizens are a bit more trusting of what they are hearing from municipalities, likely as a result of delivery on promises,” he explains.

Cape Town recorded the benchmark trust score of 72.6, followed by eThekwini (67), Johannesburg (65.9) and Ekurhuleni (63.5). Tshwane (63), Nelson Mandela Bay (58), Mangaung (56.1) and Buffalo City (50.3) scored below par.

Prof. Schreuder warns that citizen expectations are higher this year, which creates a higher standard for municipalities to meet. “Campaigning ahead of the municipal elections next year is likely to push expectations even higher, so municipalities need to put mechanisms in place to ensure that they can deliver on the promises they make to citizens. Already, the gap between expectations and delivery on quality is very wide, with Cape Town emerging in the study as the only municipality which comes close to meeting its citizens’ expectations. Municipalities which scores below par (Nelson Mandela Bay, Mangaung and Buffalo City) recorded very low reliability scores,” he says.

The level of complaints in municipalities is extremely high compared to other industries, with around one in three respondents reporting that they have experienced some sort of problem. The good news is that complaints handling has improved in most municipalities.

Prof. Schreuder says that the key drivers of citizen satisfaction are also the issues which feature in complaints about the worst performing municipalities. “The top three issues revolve around keeping municipal areas neat and tidy, maintaining existing infrastructure and providing reliable services. The verbatim comments from respondents lead us to conclude that citizen-centricity, reliability and trust that services will be delivered as promised are essential. As much as these comments feature as positive statements about better performing municipalities, citizens in the worst performing municipalities complain about the lack of delivery of municipal services such as refuse removal, deteriorating roads, problems with storm water drainage pipes and providing clean drinking water.”

Validating these findings even further, Consulta ran a national public opinion poll among 1700 ConsultaPanel respondents which revealed that 98% of South Africans want improved services from their municipalities in the areas of infrastructure and other basic services which they perceive their tax contribution should be covering.

Prof. Schreuder says that the findings identify specific areas for improvement in each municipality and that satisfaction can be improved simply by placing greater emphasis on the problem areas.