Abstract for: Service delivery and service delivery protests in contemporary South Africa: A systems perspective

Post-apartheid South Africa has been characterized by formulation of policies intended to improve livelihood of the previous disadvantaged people in the country. Improved service delivery was one of the ways of through which success of these policies would be manifested. In 2011, however, the country was experiencing at least two service delivery protects per week. To provide some insight into the situation, this paper presents a high level model of service delivery and service delivery protests in South Africa. From a qualitative viewpoint, it highlights the role of service delivery protests on services in the pipeline and on service depletion, and the importance of systemic time delays in determining the levels of government services offered at any particular time. Module simulations reveal that after accounting for the effect service delivery on services in the pipeline and service depletion, long term level of service delivery stabilization will depend on resources budgeted for the service delivery vis-à-vis community expectations of the level of service delivery. The paper recommends that these three aspects should form part of the government’s planning and communication strategy to communities as part of its wider effort to reduce frequency of service delivery protests fuelled by improbable expectations.