The truth and lies in the ANC’s 2016 election manifesto

 ·19 May 2016

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.)

Next week we tackle the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) manifestos.

Electricity 01


  • CLAIM: “The percentage of households that are connected to electricity supply increased from 69.7% in 2001 to 86% in 2014. This amounted to over 5.8 million households in 2014.”

VERDICT: mostly-correct

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”.

Read: Zuma wrong on household electricity. About 50% of homes had access in 1994

  • CLAIM: “…figures show that 2,048,052 households benefited from indigent support systems for electricity in 2014.”

VERDICT: correct

Indigent refers to “households that qualify to receive some or all basic services for free because they have no income or low income”.

Statistics 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.

Water drip


  • CLAIM: “Between 2001 and 2014, the percentage of households with access to piped water increased from 61.3% in 2001 to 90% in 2014.”

VERDICT: misleading

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.

If we include communal and neighbours’ taps as water sources with the 2001 Census data the comparable figure would be 84.5%. If we excluded communal and neighbours’ taps from the 2014 data the comparable figure would be 73.3% – 46.3% in dwellings and a further 27% on site.

(Note: By the time of publication, Stats SA had not yet confirmed whether census data is comparable with the General Household Survey. The latter started in 2002 when 82.8% of households had access to piped water in their dwellings and yards or at communal and neighbours’ taps.)

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.

  • CLAIM: “The proportion of households benefiting from free basic water services increased dramatically between 2007 and 2013. Households receiving free basic water services increased from 7,225,287 in 2007 to 11,794,526 in 2013.”

VERDICT: incorrect

Stats SA says free basic water “is an amount of water determined by government that should be provided free to poor households to meet basic needs”. It is set at 6 kilolitres a month per household and should be available within 200 metres of where the household lives.

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.


  • CLAIM: “Between 2002 and 2014, the ANC government increased access to basic sanitation services from 62.3% to 79.5%.”

VERDICT: correct

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”.


Refuse removal

  • CLAIM: “In 2001, 55.4% of households had access to refuse removal and collection. By 2012, households having access to these services increased by 7.1% to reach 62.5% and further increased to 64% in 2014.”

VERDICT: mostly-correct

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 percentage it was in 2012. (Note: In 2013, it had dropped slightly to 63.5%.)

(Note: By the time of publication, Stats SA had not yet confirmed whether census data is comparable with the General Household Survey. The latter started in 2002 when 56.7% of households had access to refuse removal and collection.)

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.



  • CLAIM: “Average life expectancy increased from 53.4 years in 2004 to 62.5 years in 2015.”

VERDICT: mostly-correct

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 at 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.

  • CLAIM: “…in 2002, the infant mortality rate was 51.2 babies per 1,000 live births. In 2015, infant mortality rate decreased to 34.4 deaths per 1,000 live births.”

VERDICT: correct

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.”

This article was first published on Africa Check – see the original here.

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