Community expectations and perceptions of municipal service delivery : a case study in the Emfuleni local area
Moletsane, Annie Mojaesi
MetadataShow full item record
The lack of service delivery by South African municipalities has received much attention in recent years. In South Africa, service quality within local government is perceived as being generally poor. According to the South African Constitution, the mandate of a municipality is to ensure service deliveries through satisfying citizens‟ basic needs. Therefore, an understanding of customers‟ expectations and perceptions is vital for any service organisation’s success. The research undertaken in this study was deemed necessary, given that service delivery by South African municipalities is widely considered to be lacking in various areas. The research was conducted against the backdrop of the White Paper on Local Government that calls for the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner. The primary objective of the study was to provide a view on the community’s expectations and perceptions of the service quality delivery by the Emfuleni Local Municipality in order to identify any potential service quality gaps. The study follows a descriptive research design approach. The literature review comprised published research relating to service quality and service quality models. The literature review provides information on service quality from the perspective of general service industries, as well as an overview of the current South African local spheres of government. The outcomes of the literature review served to provide the theoretical framework for the empirical study. A questionnaire survey was utilised to gather the required data for the empirical portion of this study. Residents of the Emfuleni Local Municipality formed the sampling frame of this study. The questionnaire included the SERVQUAL measuring scale. Self-administered questionnaires using the mall-intercept survey method were employed as the data collection method. In accordance with the delineated scope of the study, this study was confined to the Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark pay points of the Emfuleni Local Municipality. The study is cross-sectional in nature (data were collected in December 2010) and, as such, the results are representative of that point in time. The findings indicate that customers of the Emfuleni Local Municipality have negative perceptions of the quality of services delivered by the municipality. A statistical and practical significant difference was computed between expectations and perceptions on all of the service quality dimensions concerning service-quality delivery by the Emfuleni Local Municipality, thereby indicating service quality gaps that need to be addressed. The recommendations provided in this study focus on suggesting possible ways in which municipalities in South Africa in general, and in the Emfuleni Local Municipality in particular, may improve their service-quality delivery in order to decrease the gaps between expectations and perceptions, and doing so, increase customer satisfaction. Recommendations for closing these gaps include increasing marketing research, upgrading and maintaining the physical facilities, improving collaboration, co-ordination and co-operation between departments, keeping up-dated records, improving communication programmes, and implementing management and leadership training for management team. In addition, it is recommended that municipalities recruit qualified personnel who are willing to help, and that they engage in on-going staff training and motivation initiatives.