SA’s local government election: 3 final ANC, DA & EFF fact-checks

The leaders of the ANC, DA and EFF - President Jacob Zuma, Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema - pulled out all stops in their parties' final local government election rallies at the weekend. But that included stretching the truth.

South Africans go to the polls tomorrow to elect new local governments. The country’s three main parties held rallies at the weekend in a final effort to sweep up support.

The party leaders made claims that raised eyebrows, however. Readers asked us to look into claims by the leaders of the ANC and the DA, President Jacob Zuma and Mmusi Maimane. We also evaluated a promise by EFF leader Julius Malema that made news headlines.

African National Congress (ANC)

Claim

“In 1994 we took over as the democratic government just over 50% of households had access to clean piped water and today over 95% of our people enjoy access to clean piped water.”

Verdict

incorrect

President Jacob Zuma made this claim in one of Johannesburg’s stadiums.

South Africa’s most recent nationally representative survey on service delivery is the 2016 Community Survey, released earlier this month. It shows that 89.1% of households in the country has access to piped water. The rest relies on rivers, streams, boreholes, rainwater tanks or other sources of water.

To find the figure for 1994 is trickier. As we’ve reported before, the earliest data that Statistics South Africa has is the 1995 October Household Survey, which found that 78.5% of households had access to clean water then.

However, the agency’s manager of service delivery statistics, Niël Roux, told Africa Check at the time that the particular survey was “hamstrung by a series of methodological and practical issues” so the data isn’t often used today.

A smaller nationally representative survey, carried out by the Southern Africa Labour Development Research Unit (SALDRU) in late 1993 and early 1994, found that 76.4% of households had access to piped water. Professor Ingrid Woolard, currently with SALDRU, told Africa Check previously that this survey was “fairly reliable, but it was a small survey – less than 9,000 households – so there will be some margin of error”.

The earliest credible data source from Stats SA is considered the 1996 Census, which found that 60,7% of households had access to piped water in their dwelling or yard, with 20,8% using public taps, for a total of 81.5%.

READ: Zuma wrong on household electricity: about 50% of homes had access in 1994

Democratic Alliance (DA)

Claim

“In Midvaal… unemployment is half of what it is for the rest of Gauteng.”

Verdict

incorrect

The leader of the DA, Mmusi Maimane, said this at the party’s final election rally in Dobsonville on Saturday.

When Africa Check fact-checked the DA’s national election manifesto, we found they were correct in claiming that Midvaal had the lowest unemployment rate in Gauteng. This applies to both the narrow definition of unemployment (counting people actively looking for work) – at 18.8% – and the expanded one (including people who’ve given up looking for a job), at 25.5%.

The rates are based on Census 2011 data which contains the most recent unemployment data available for municipalities, Monet Durieux from the labour statistics unit at Stats SA told Africa Check.

However, with Gauteng’s corresponding figures at 26.3% (narrow) and 32.8% (broad), unemployment in Midvaal is not half of what it is in the rest of the province.

Municipality Narrow unemployment rate Broad unemployment rate
Emfuleni 34.7% 41.9%
Westonaria 29.5% 36.0%
Ekurhuleni 28.8% 35.2%
Merafong City 27.2% 33.9%
Randfontein 27.1% 32.8%
Lesedi 25.9% 33.6%
City of Johannesburg 25% 31.3%
Mogale City 24.6% 30.4%
City of Tshwane 24.2% 30.7%
Midvaal 18.8% 25.5%
Gauteng 26.3% 32.8%

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)

Claim: “I will increase [pensioners’ social grants]. An elderly person will get R3,000 upwards. The child support grants… we will increase it. A child will get R600 upwards.”

Verdict: Not within a municipality’s power

Speaking at the Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane on Sunday, Economic Freedom Fighters’ leader Julius Malema said people are spreading lies that the EFF would take away pensioners’ social grants.

“I am not taking the older person’s grant,” Malema said. “I will increase it. An elderly person will get R3,000 upwards. The child support grants… we will increase it. A child will get R600 upwards.”

But can a local municipality actually increase social welfare grant amounts?

“Absolutely not,” said Dr Andrew Siddle, a researcher focusing on local government based at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town. He explained that the only way municipalities can assist the poor is with their Indigent Policies. The Municipal Indigent Policy is intended to guide the national initiative to improve the lives of poor people and to improve access to free basic services (water, electricity and sanitation).

Media liaison officer Jaconia Kobue of the department of social development, which oversees policy affecting social welfare grants, told Africa Check: “Grant values are a national government competence and neither local or provincial governments play any significant role in determining these values.”

Currently, the grant for older persons is a maximum of R1,500 while the child support grant is set at R350. As of 30 September 2015, there were 3.1 million recipients of the old age grant and 11.9 million recipients of the child support grant. In South Africa’s 2016 budget, R152.5 billion was set aside for the 7 different social grants.

READ: Social grants in South Africa – separating myth from reality

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