Satisfaction of Buffalo City residents remains below industry levels
The latest South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) for municipalities, conducted by Consulta, reports that City of Cape Town residents trust their municipality the most and are most satisfied with service delivery.
It has been almost a year since the hotly-contested 2016 Municipal Elections, and the index completed last month reveals that South African citizens’ satisfaction with their municipalities has hit a three-year low with an industry average of 59.3.
South Africa’s eight metropolitan councils are included in the 2017 SAcsi for municipalities namely; Cape Town, Buffalo City, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Johannesburg, Mangaung, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane.
Cape Town’s overall SAcsi score of 68.5 places it well ahead of the industry average, however the Mother City’s score is down from 70.3 in 2016 and 71.9 in the previous year. Buffalo City, on the other end of the spectrum, has consistently received the lowest score with 47.2 in 2017, which is a slight decline from 47.6 in 2016 and marginally higher than its 2015 score of 47.1.
Ekurhuleni was on par with the industry, scoring 59.8, an improvement from 58 last year. Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay were also on par, with scores of 57.7, 57 and 59 respectively. Mangaung and eThekwini were below par with scores of 51.3 and 57.8.
Nelson Mandela Bay reported the most impressive improvement in customer satisfaction with a score of 59.0 in 2017, up by 5.2 compared to 53.8 in 2016. The only other municipalities that improved their performance from 2016 were Johannesburg which increased by 2.4 points (57 from 54.6) and Ekurhuleni with an improvement of 1.8 points (59.8 from 58).
The SAcsi further revealed that Cape Town citizens have the greatest trust in their municipality. The municipality achieved a score of 72.4 compared to the industry average of 64.9 however, this is a considerable decline (4.7) when compared to the metropolitan council’s 2016 score of 77.1.
The lowest trust index score was 51.4 for Buffalo City, which further declined from 52.6 in 2016. Declines in trust were also experienced by eThekwini (63 compared to 65) and Mangaung (56.4 compared to 58.8). On the other hand, Nelson Mandela Bay reported a major improvement in trust with a score of 67.4, an increase of 9.9 against its 2016 score of 57.5, followed by Johannesburg at 64.6 compared to 58 in 2016 (6.6 increase). There were marginal increases of 2.5 in trust in Tshwane (65.2 compared to 62.7) and a 1.1 increase in Ekurhuleni (62.8 against 61.7).
“The 2016 Municipal Elections were a watershed moment for post-democracy politics in South Africa and people’s shifting sentiment was reflected in how they voted,” says Prof. Adré Schreuder, founder and CEO of Consulta. “Municipalities that saw significant changes in leadership increased their overall SAcsi scores, with the exception of Tshwane, which declined possibly due to lingering structural challenges.”
Cape Town easily achieved the highest scores across all customer satisfaction metrics. The city’s perceived quality index score of 71.8 was comfortably ahead of the average of 62.2, and it was the only municipality to exceed expectations, meaning its delivered quality was higher than expectations. It’s treating customers fairly (TCF) score, a measure of its customer-centricity across various metrics, declined slightly, but was still high at 71 points.
“While Cape Town remains the clear leader, it still experienced a decline in trust,” Prof. Schreuder says. “This may be related to the current water crisis, increasing migration into the province, and infrastructure maintenance falling behind.”
Johannesburg’s perceived quality score of 59.2 was on par with the industry, and saw a considerable increase from 56.3 in 2016. The city’s TCF score strengthened substantially from 55 to 59.3 thanks to the reliability of essential services (water and electricity) and improvements in providing relevant information.
“Johannesburg was one of the most aggressively contested municipalities,” Prof. Schreuder says. “While Johannesburg failed to meet expectations, its quality scores have improved substantially since last year. The metro has made a big effort to improve and meet expectations in a short space of time.”
Tshwane’s perceived quality index score of 61.2 was slightly down from the previous two years. The TCF score of 58.9 dropped slightly from 59.6 last year. Reasons cited include the lack of processes in place to report and resolve problems and not providing sufficient suitable advice to citizens on specific issues.
“Tshwane has struggled with a transition of power. The new administration has been focussed on investigating corruption by the previous administration, as a result citizens have not seen improvement,” Prof. Schreuder says.
Customer perceived quality increased from 61.9 to 62.8, the highest level over the past three years, thanks to its ability to provide good water, electricity and sanitation services. These provisions also contributed to its TCF score increasing from 58 to 60.4.
“Ekurhuleni is another strongly contested, strategic Gauteng metro and whoever ascends to its leadership will want to keep citizens happy at all costs,” Prof. Schreuder says. “Certain promises made to workers haven’t come to fruition.”
The eThekwini municipality perceived quality score decreased from 64.1 to 61.2, despite its success in delivering basic services such as water, electricity, and sanitation more effectively. Its TCF score fell sharply from 68.8 in 2015 to 61.3 this year.
“Unfortunately, the eThekwini district has been marred by political infighting and violence,” Prof. Schreuder says. “Citizens are well-served in vital services, but political instability amplifies the facilities and services that need attention, such as roads, storm water drainage, cleanliness of parks and street lights.”
Perceived quality has declined from 56.5 to 52.8. The municipality fell short in the areas of garbage removal, sewage, roads maintenance, cleanliness of parks and lighting. The metropolitan had a poor TCF score of 52.6, which was affected by perceptions of poor service delivery and weak information processes.
“It seems that Mangaung is a missed opportunity that wasn’t given strong attention by election candidates,” Prof. Schreuder says. “Existing and aspiring leaders need to take advantage of this area by delivering better services and engaging better with citizens.”
Nelson Mandela Bay
The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality saw its perceived quality score increase substantially by 8.8 points from 52.2 in 2015 to 61 in 2017. The metro’s TCF score shot up from 57.2 last year to 62.4, with citizens feeling their water and electricity services are reliable. However, garbage collection, roads, street lights, municipal parks and storm water drainage need attention.
“The region has been a key target of political change for several years prior to the 2016 Municipal Elections,” Prof. Schreuder says. “A change in leadership has yet to allay concerns about the overall management of the municipality, but citizens feel they are being treated more fairly.”
The customer expectation score by Buffalo City fell by 9.4 points from 62.1 in 2016 to 52.7 this year, on the back of poor management and reports of rampant corruption. Perceived quality fell from 50.8 to 48.6 this year, with poor management of services, especially roads, which have been left in disrepair, and municipal parks, which are not kept neat and tidy. This resulted in its TCF score falling from 49.6 last year, which was already low, to 47.5 in 2017, the lowest of all municipalities.
“Buffalo City has struggled to provide even the most basic services for all its citizens,” Prof. Schreuder says. “This has been exacerbated by the perception that corruption goes unchecked. The municipality is an excellent opportunity for anyone who would want to demonstrate an ability to deal with mismanagement and corruption.”
Customer complaints have been on the rise across all municipalities, apart from Mangaung and Nelson Mandela Bay, which have seen declines. The biggest complaint, making up 31% of all complaints, was related to water services, followed by 18% for electricity and 13% related to personnel, 11% for potholes and streets, 10% for garbage and 8% for tax bills. Street lights, crime and parks made up 4%, 3% and 1% of complaints respectively.
“While complaints are on the rise, this is not necessarily a negative thing,” Prof. Schreuder says. “This could be a sign that citizens feel their voices need to be heard and municipalities are providing better platforms for them to share their concerns.”