n Journal of Public Administration - Strategies for indigent policy formulation and implementation in urban settlements in South Africa

Volume 38, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Researchers at the University of the Free State have conducted a study investigating indigent policies. The need for this research emanated from a prior research project investigating the non-payment for municipal services and the resulting socio-economic impact. A national base-line survey was conducted among 1 599 households. Concurrently, in-depth interviews were held with finance managers. The core finding was that in most cases poverty is the main cause of non-payment.

Central Government has acknowledged this fact and as a mitigating step, has introduced an unconditional equitable share grant that is allocated to local government. However, as reflected during workshop consultation with government and civil society, many municipalities struggle with the formulation and implementation of an indigent policy that operationalises the equitable share grant. Four case study sites were selected and a multi-pronged qualitative approach was employed.
With regard to the formulation of the policy, findings indicate that the unconditional nature of the equitable share grant, a need for socio-economic research and the qualifying criteria for allocation, unemployment, consultation and communication all impede this process. Stumbling blocks in respect of implementation of policy are the processes of identifying the poor, and verifying applications. Furthermore, issues of concern are monitoring the process and also arrears in account payments. The output of the study is a strategy outlining guidelines for the design and implementation of the policy and suggestions on how best to meet the service delivery needs of the poor.

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