Original Research

Caring for the indigent urban population in South Africa: A case study of the eThekwini municipality

Brandon Pillay, Sybert Mutereko
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 10, No 1 | a593 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v10i1.593 | © 2022 Brandon Pillay, Sybert Mutereko | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 August 2021 | Published: 08 September 2022

About the author(s)

Brandon Pillay, School of Management, IT and Governance, College of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Sybert Mutereko, School of Management, IT and Governance, College of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: Indigent policy within the eThekwini Metropolitan municipality like every well-meaning government policy seeks to address three major challenges of poverty, lack of employment and gross disparities that pose a major threat to growth in the city. Overcoming these threefold challenges forms a core objective of consolidating and advancing developmental local governance, which aims to support poor households with the intention of uplifting their everyday living conditions. There is no desire to change the current status quo of the eThekwini municipality indigent policy, and the gap still exists in the lack of internal control systems, a consolidated approach to execution and a dedicated office to deal with the roll-out of the support.

Aim: This research investigated factors undermining the effective implementation of this indigent policy and proposed a strategic policy framework that ensures a long-term solution to the ineffective implementation of indigent policy.

Setting: The study was conducted in eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, and respondents were employees in the following units: Electricity, Customer Services and Revenue Protection, Water Services, Finance Services, and Strategy Office.

Methods: The study adopted a qualitative data approach where a semi-structured interview was used to collect data from 11 purposively selected employees from five departments of eThekwini municipality.

Results: The findings reveal that the indigent policy in eThekwini municipality is ineffective because of poor implementation, poor maintenance of the indigent register, budget deficit and corruption.

Conclusion: The study concludes that some measures such as maintenance of indigent registers and adequate budget allocation to improve the inefficiency in the implementation of the indigent policy.


indigent; indigent policies; poverty; inequality; free essential municipal services


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