FACT CHECK: Is the EFF your ‘last hope for service delivery’?
Researched by Kate Wilkinson & Masutane Modjadji
The EFF's local government election manifesto is titled 'Our last hope for jobs and service delivery'. Like the African National Congress's manifesto, the EFF's is also 32 pages long, but unlike the ANC, they do not have previous local government performance to highlight.
EFF president Julius Malema says that their manifesto "is different from the rest because its success will primarily be gauged by the number of jobs the municipality will create and the number of lives that would have been improved".
Here we evaluate whether the EFF will be able to keep key promises, based on current laws. We sent questions to the party asking for clarity on how they were planning on implementing their promises. At the time of publishing this report we had not received a response.
(_Note: Last week _ we examined the ANC's election manifesto and next week we fact-check the Democratic Alliance's manifesto.)
We will be publishing the promises one by one, so check back throughout the day.
Promise: "The EFF People's Municipality will pass by-laws which will expropriate and allocate land equitably to all residents of the municipality for residential, recreational, industrial, religious, and agricultural purposes and activities with the principle of use it or lose it."
Our verdict: If the minister of public works delegates power to a municipality and compensation is paid.
Municipalities are allowed to pass by-laws which the public is allowed to review and comment on. But this power doesn't extend to expropriation.
"The EFF's election promise mentions the passing of municipal expropriation by-laws, which is superfluous and irrelevant," said Benjamin Cousins, emeritus professor at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies of the University of the Western Cape.
Cousins said that South Africa's impending Expropriation Act "does allow for the [minister of public works] to delegate powers of expropriation to another organ of state, including a municipality, which then becomes an 'expropriating authority'".
The land cannot be expropriated arbitrarily, according to Bulelwa Mabasa, a director at Werksmans Attorneys specialising in expropriation litigation.
"Land cannot be expropriated simply because it is not being used. There must be a legitimate public purpose or public interest," Mabasa explained.
The EFF's promise would also require an enormous amount of money to implement. Local government expert, Andrew Siddle, told Africa Check that the EFF's promise was not financially feasible unless the expropriation was on a "no or only partial compensation basis".
But the act, in its current form, requires that the amount of compensation paid to the owner of the expropriated land or property be "just and equitable". It must reflect "an equitable balance between the public interest and the interests of the expropriated owner".
The South African Constitution requires that this compensation be based on a number of factors, including the current use of the property and its market value.
Promise: "The EFF's People Municipality will ensure that all schools under its jurisdiction have running water, sanitation and refuse removal."
Our verdict: It is a municipal function.
Under the South African Constitution it is the function of local government to provide running water and sanitation "not just for schools, but for all residents", Siddle told Africa Check.
But according to the department of basic education's National Education Infrastructure Management System, there were 604 schools without access to water in South Africa in 2014. The majority were in the Eastern Cape (339) and KwaZulu-Natal (183).
There were 474 schools without sanitation facilities in the country in 2014. Again, the majority were in the Eastern Cape (366) and KwaZulu-Natal (66).
Promise: "The EFF's People Municipality will abolish all forms of informal settlements and dwellings and provide adequate human settlements for all."
Our verdict: If the provincial government grants enough funding.
An informal dwelling is a "makeshift structure not erected according to approved architectural plans", as defined by Statistics South Africa. This includes shacks in informal settlements or in backyards.
According to the 2014 General Household Survey, 12.9% of South Africa's 15.6 million households lived in informal dwellings.
Siddle told Africa Check that upgrading informal housing was already a "long-term goal" for South Africa as a whole and questioned how the EFF would fund it.
"It should be remembered that under current legislation and framework, housing is primarily a national and provincial responsibility, with local government having limited powers," he added.
According to South Africa's Housing Act, municipalities are responsible for progressively providing housing in their area and identifying and designating land for housing and ensuring that water, sanitation, electricity, roads, storm water drainage and transport are provided.
Robert Cameron, professor at the University of Cape Town's political science department, told Africa Check that the promise was feasible but would require funding.
"They could abolish informal settlements but would have to apply to the provincial housing boards for money," Cameron said.
Promise: "The EFF's People Municipality will make sure that each and every household within its municipality has [a] flushing toilet, which will be connected to the municipal sewage system and/or to clean, safe and durable septic tanks."
Our verdict: If each household has water in their yard.
"Government policy is to provide sanitation to all but it still relies to a large extent on ventilated improved pit toilets and there is still a long way to go in certain provinces," Siddle told Africa Check. "[The] only new thing from EFF is that all toilets [will] be flushing."
Stats SA defines adequate sanitation as "flush toilets connected to a public sewerage system or a septic tank" or "a pit toilet with a ventilation pipe". In 2014, 79.5% of households had access to this level of sanitation.
A guide to service delivery levels by the Department of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs highlights that "sanitation service levels need to be planned in conjunction with the availability of water resources and supply".
For example, a household accessing water through communal taps cannot have a flush toilet installed. The basic level of sanitation that can be provided in this scenario is a pit toilet with a ventilation pipe.
A household must have a roof tank or a yard tap with a toilet connection in order to have a flush toilet connected to a septic tank. A flush toilet connected to the municipal sewage system requires a fully metered and pressurised household water connection.
Because of these limitations, the provision of flush toilets would also require the provision of on-site water for households. In 2004 an estimated 46.3% of households had piped water in their dwellings and 27% has access to water on their property.
Promise: "The EFF's People Municipality will ensure that there is 100% electrification of every household in the municipality within the [sic] 5 years of being in government."
Our verdict: Informal settlements, migration and rural areas pose an impediment.
South Africa's department of energy defines "universal access" as 97% of households being electrified. It notes that "full electrification is unlikely to be possible due to growth and delays in the process of formalising informal settlements".
Cameron described the promise as "laudable" but difficult to achieve.
"The problem in the big cities is in-migration. As soon as municipalities have provided services to some informal settlements, there are new migrants coming in requiring services," he said.
The extent of the housing backlog and the ease of connecting households in isolated areas is also an impediment to universal electrification.
"Given that the [housing] backlog in municipalities is not a uniform proportion everywhere, and some municipal areas include deep rural regions, the feasibility of practical 100% electrification of every household is approximately zero," Trevor Gaunt, emeritus professor at the University of Cape Town's electrical engineering department, told Africa Check.
In 2014, Stats SA reported that 86% of households were connected to mains electricity.
FREE BASIC SERVICES
Promise: "The EFF's People Municipality will provide free basic electricity and [water] to the poor."
Our verdict: Registered poor households should receive free basic services from municipalities.
Poor (indigent) households that register with municipalities qualify to receive free basic water and electricity because they receive no income or have a low income.
Statistics SA's non-financial census of municipalities for the year ending June 2014 reported that 237 out of 278 municipalities had indigent support policies.
In 2014, 2,048,052 of South Africa's poor households (58.8%) received free basic electricity.
The department of energy recommends 50kWh per household per month be supplied free. This is enough to power basic lighting, a small black and white TV, a small radio and to do "basic ironing and basic water boiling", according to the department of energy.
That same year 2,460,135 poor households (70.7%) received free basic water. This is set at 6 kilolitres a month per household and should be available within 200 metres of the household.
Some households that are not registered as poor also receive free basic services, depending on the municipality they are in.
In 2014, the following proportion of consumer units (which is a billing unit, not a household) received free basic services:
- 4,633,999 consumer units (38%) received free basic water; and
- 2,365,147 consumer units (23%) received free basic electricity from municipalities and service providers.
These figures include the indigent households mentioned above.