There are always grand claims made around election time, and promises of the moon and the stars to voters who back the winning party. The claims and promises often fade into the background after the elections, only to resurface the next time around because nothing much has been done in the years between.
Africa Check delved into the election manifestos of three high-profile political parties – the ANC, the DA and the EFF – to check out their various claims. The EFF, being the new kid on the block, does not have any past performance to compare to.
Read the results of Africa Check’s investigation below:
Is the ANC “advancing people’s power”? We fact-check key election claims.
The African National Congress governs the majority of South Africa’s municipalities. Ahead of the local government election on 3 August, we fact-checked key claims in their manifesto.
Researched by Liesl Pretorius & Lebohang Mojapelo
The African National Congress’ 32-page local government election manifesto is titled Together advancing people’s power in every community: Local government is in your hands. In the foreword, President Jacob Zuma wrote that the “ANC remains best placed, together with the people, to make qualitative change in people’s lives”.
Here are key claims in the manifesto about the ANC’s past performance in local government that we fact-checked. (Note: We aren’t able to fact-check promises but will keep an eye on whether they are fulfilled.)
According to South Africa’s 2001 Census, 69.7% of households used electricity as their main energy source for lighting then. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) confirmed that this comprised 8 274 455 households at the time.
(Note: Stats SA’s General Household Survey, which only started in 2002, recorded that 77.1% of households – a total of 8 319 918 households – had access to electricity in that year.)
The latest data from Stats SA’s General Household Survey confirms that 86% of households (a total of 13 403 107) in South Africa were connected to electricity supply in 2014. The number is therefore more than double the figure of 5.8-million in the ANC’s manifesto.
What needs to be kept in mind is that the number of households connected does not reflect the quality of the service. The 2014 General Household Survey found that 66.5% of households rated the quality of electricity services as “good”.
CLAIM: “…figures show that 2,048,052 households benefited from indigent support systems for electricity in 2014.”
Indigent refers to “households that qualify to receive some or all basic services for free because they have no income or low income”.
Stats SA’s non-financial census of municipalities for the year ending June 2014 confirmed that 2 048 052 indigent households had received assistance for electricity, out of the 3 482 260 identified indigent households across South Africa.
The recommended amount is 50 kWh per household per month – enough for basic lighting, to power a small black and white TV, a small radio and to do “basic ironing and basic water boiling”, according to the Department of Energy.
However, Earthlife Africa, a non-profit organisation, has argued that 50 kWh is not sufficient and, in 2010, proposed a quantity of 200 kWh.
In 2014/15, 154 municipalities supplied 50 kWh and a further 18 quantities of between 60 kWh and 250 kWh.
The 61.3% in the ANC manifesto seems to indicate only the share of households with piped water in their dwellings (32.3%) and in their yards (29%), as found by South Africa’s 2001 Census.
However, the figure of 90% in 2014 includes communal taps and neighbours’ taps, Stats SA’s General Household Survey shows.
The ANC is therefore not comparing like with like in its manifesto.
Their claim compares the percentage of households with access to piped water in dwelling or on site in 2001 with the percentage of households with access to piped water in dwelling or on siteand communal and neighbours’ taps in 2014. This makes the increase appear much larger.
If the same measures are compared the increases are as follows:
|2001 Census||2014 GHS|
|Access to water in dwelling or on site||61.3%||73.3%|
|Access to water including communal and neighbours’ taps||84.5%||90%|
Again, having access to piped water does not reflect the quality of the service. The General Household Survey also found that 61.4% of households nationally rated water-related services as “good” in 2014 – a decline from 76.4% in 2005, the first time this question was included.
Statistics from the 2007 non-financial census of municipalities show that 7 281 862 consumer units received free basic water services at the time.
A consumer unit is an “entity to which the service is delivered, and which receives one bill if the service is billed”. A block of flats, for example, could represent one consumer unit but multiple households.
This figure reduced to 5 269 475 in 2013 and 4 633 999 in 2014, according to the non-financial census of municipalities – significantly lower than the number contained in the ANC manifesto.
The decrease between 2007 and 2013 is the result of municipalities initially aiming to provide free basic water services to all households, Stats SA media relations officer Madimetja Mashishi explained to Africa Check. However, budget constraints have led them to narrow their goal to only providing for indigent households.
It appears that the figure of 11 794 526 refers to the delivery of water services to all consumer units in 2013, whether paid or free. It has been incorrectly used to indicate the delivery of free basic water services.
Stats SA’s General Household Survey confirms that the number of households with access to “RDP standard” sanitation services did increase from 62.3% in 2002 to 79.5% in 2014.
RDP standard refers to “flush toilets connected to a public sewerage system or a septic tank, and a pit toilet with a ventilation pipe”.
However, the report highlights the inadequate nature of some of the sanitation services. Problems with “poor lighting” were experienced by a quarter of the households as well as “poor hygiene”, while close to two in ten “felt that their physical safeties were threatened when using the toilet”.
South Africa’s 2001 Census showed that 55.4% of households had access to refuse removal at least once a week while data from the General Household Survey shows an increase to 64% in 2014, the same as in 2012. (Note: In 2013, it had dropped slightly to 63.5%.)
While the proportion has increased, the report showed that “households in urban areas were much more likely to receive some rubbish removal service than those in rural areas, and rural households were therefore much more likely to rely on their own rubbish dumps”.
A total of 90.5% of households in rural areas discarded refuse themselves. The comparable figure for urban households was 10.7% and 5.1% for metropolitan areas.
Stats SA releases population statistics annually in its mid-year population estimates. The 2015 report confirms that life expectancy has risen from 53.4 years in 2004 to 62.5 years in 2015.
Life expectancy for women (64.3 years) is higher than that for men (60.6 years).
Deputy executive director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, Francois Venter, has previously told Africa Check that the general consensus was that life expectancy in South Africa had been driven up by the rollout of antiretroviral therapy.
The mid-year population estimates for 2015 confirms a decrease in the infant mortality rate from 51.2 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2002 to 34.4 per 1 000 in 2015. Infants refer to babies younger than one year.
However, according to the Millennium Development Goals “the internationally set target… is a two-thirds reduction in child mortality between 1990 and 2015.”
South Africa’s target therefore was to reduce the infant mortality rate to 18 deaths per 1 000 by 2015, which has not been met.
Dr Neil McKerrow, head of paediatrics and child health in the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal, said a number of factors could have contributed to the country’s failure to meet the target, including South Africa’s late response to HIV and poor access to care. The latter does not only refer to geographic access “but the quality of the service and how this discourages mothers returning when they have had a bad previous experience”.
He said South Africa had chosen the right programmes to reduce child mortality “but the coverage and quality of implementation of these programmes is poor”.
McKerrow added: “At national level maternal and child mortality are recognised priorities but at the coalface clinicians and facility managers are faced with the full spectrum of health conditions – not just the priority conditions – and without ring-fenced funds are not able to take from one area to cater for another.”
In 2009 President Jacob Zuma promised in his 2009 State of the Nation Address to provide four million job opportunities by 2014 through the second phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
A work opportunity refers to any paid work offered to someone on any of the EPWP’s projects. It can run for any period of time. Learnerships are also counted as work opportunities.
The 1-million target for phase 1 of the programme (starting in April 2004 until March 2009) had been exceeded: 1 674 425 opportunities were created.
In the programme’s phase 2 review, it was reported that 4 071 292 work opportunities had been created between April 2009 and March 2014, even though the programme’s target had been 4.5-million.
Therefore, 5.7-million work opportunities were created between 2004 and 2014.
However, as Africa Check has previously explained, someone can be employed on different projects in the programme at different times, with each work period counted as a separate job opportunity. This means that the opportunities do not reflect the number of people who have benefited from the programme.
The Expanded Public Works Programme provides temporary work to the unemployed.
In June 2015, the Department of Public Works told Parliament’s portfolio committee on public works that 106% of the programme’s target for 2014/15 had been achieved.
That is 1 103 983 work opportunities by the end of March 2015, against a target of 1 045 520. The achievement was repeated in a September 2015 EPWP newsletter.
However, these do not match the figures recorded in the ANC manifesto – that 1.24-million or 119% had been achieved – a claim that has been repeated on government’s EPWP page.
Kgomotso Mathuloe, the EPWP’s director for communications, could not immediately shed light on the apparent discrepancies in the results for the first year of phase 3, saying that updated figures would be available by the end of the week.
Nevertheless, independent municipal data analyst Michael O’Donovan considers the temporary nature of work opportunities to be “the real problem” of the programme. “Thus participation may be fleeting – the doubling of participants may well be at the cost of halving the average duration of employment.”
The department’s progress report to Parliament noted that the average duration of EPWP work opportunities in the financial year 2014/15 was 87 days.
The manifesto claims that EPWP targets for both women and the youth had been surpassed. This is true for phase 2 of the project (2009/10 to 2013/14).
However, in the first year of phase 3, the programme failed to achieve the youth target: 51% was achieved against a target of 55%. For women, the target of 55% was surpassed (63%).
The Community Work Programme – which falls under the EPWP – aims to provide “a job safety net for unemployed people of working age” by guaranteeing a minimum number of regular work days within a set period. The focus is work that benefits the community.
According to figures supplied by the department of cooperative governance, 45 municipalities participated in the programme in the financial year 2010/11. This number increased to 155 by March 2015.
The department pointed out that it reports in financial years (that runs from April to March) and not calendar years and therefore the 196 in the ANC manifesto might refer to the number of municipalities participating at the end of 2015.
This might also explain why 100 000 participants were claimed for 2011: the number of work opportunities reached 89 689 by March 2011 and was at 105 218 by March 2012.
The “more than 200 000” is correct as far as it refers to work opportunities: the programme had delivered 202 447 such opportunities by March 2015.
However, as noted before, the same person can be employed on different projects and therefore work opportunities and participants are not synonymous.
Data from the Department of Human Settlements shows 3 738 818 “housing opportunities” were created between 1994/95 and 2013/14. This is made up of 2 835 275 completed houses/units and 903 543 completed serviced sites.
Ndivhuwo Wa Ha Mabaya, Human Settlements spokesperson, said full-title RDP houses, rental accommodation, hostel upgrades, and council houses where ownership was granted, as well as serviced sites provided, would be included in the 3.7-million figure.
“For each of these a subsidy is granted, either to upgrade a hostel into a family unit, to build a rental flat in town, to put infrastructure (electricity, water and sewerage) to a stand, and in (the case of) full title, a subsidy for services and the top structure (house).”
Wa Ha Mabaya said both houses and serviced stands are in some cases provided in isolation. For example, when a beneficiary owns the site, government would only provide a house.
Government would provide a stand, without a house, when someone doesn’t qualify for a house or decides to build their own house instead of waiting for government to build it for them. (Note: It is therefore incorrect to say that the ANC government gave people a home when a quarter of the subsidised housing opportunities were in the form of serviced states.)
When a stand and a house are delivered at the same time, they are counted as a house – and not as a stand and a house.
According to the department’s 20-year review, approximately 12.5-million people received “access to accommodation and a fixed asset” as a result of the provision of the 3.7-million houses and serviced sites.
Wa Ha Mabaya said that if one multiplies the number of housing opportunities with the average family size in South Africa “you will see the answer” as to how many people benefited. He suggested that more than 12.5-million people may have benefited.
That is true if the number of housing opportunities is multiplied by the household size from the 2001 Census (3.8), giving 14.2-million people, and also if the figure from the 2011 Census is used (3.6, as supplied by Stats SA), which gives 13.5-million people.
Marie Huchzermeyer, professor at Wits University’s school of architecture and planning, told Africa Check that while “no one disputes the general overall number of ‘housing opportunities’” an uncritical celebration of numbers should be avoided.
“This form of housing has placed enormous servicing burdens on municipalities, contributed to the further spatial fragmentation of South African towns and cities, have required ongoing expenditure on transport subsidies and have not met the vision of human settlements,” she said.
The Department of Human Settlements’ most recent annual report shows that 74 017 households in informal settlements were “upgraded with improved housing conditions” in 2014/15. This means that individual informal households are provided with basic services, such as water supply, electricity and sanitation.
The number fell short of its annual target of 150 000 households.
However, the target of 400 000 for the period May 2010 to April 2014 had been exceeded: 447 780 such households were upgraded in those five years.
In the latest five-year period for which figures are available, the 95,000 in the ANC manifesto was exceeded within a single year in both 2012/13 (141 973) and 2011/12 (100 000). The figure for 2013/14 was 71 766.
The 95 000 in the manifesto is therefore significantly lower than the number of reported upgraded households over the last five years.
The National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) chief director of communications, Bulelwa Makeke, confirmed these figures to Africa Check, saying that they were drawn from their annual report for 2015/16.
This report will only be available to the public at the end of August 2016.
However, conviction rates are a poor measure of success in the fight against corruption as they only reflects cases taken to court and not the true extent of corrupt officials.
The head of the governance, crime and justice division at the Institute for Security Studies, Gareth Newham, told Africa Check the statistics cited suggest that very few government officials are being convicted for corruption.
A freezing order is a court order in an investigation that “ensures that the money/assets involved are not accessible to the owner until all the relevant legal processes/litigation have been completed,” the NPA’s Bulelwa Makeke told Africa Check.
After a successful investigation or prosecution, the money that is recovered by the state from the freezing orders is referred to as the value of “completed forfeitures”, she added.
Makeke confirmed that the state had recovered R4.21-billion since 2009 in completed forfeitures. As mentioned earlier, this could not be independently verified as the NPA has not released its latest report covering 2015/16.
The NPA’s 2009/10 annual report shows that R185-million was recovered in that year. According to the NPA’s 2014/15 annual report over R2.7-billion was recovered between 2010/11 and 2014/15.
|Financial year||Value of completed forfeitures|
This adds up to R2.9-billion that has been recovered since 2009, with no official figures yet released for 2015/16. It would need to total R1.3-billion to square with the manifesto claim.
According to a parliamentary reply, however, only R45.4-million had been achieved by February 2016.