Repository logo

An assessment of service delivery as a tool for redressing spatial inequality in South Africa’s rural municipalities: a case study of Impendle Municipality in uMgungundlovu District.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This research argues that service delivery is worthy of being used as an indicatory tool for redressing spatial inequality in the context of rural municipalities in South Africa. Moreover, the research further lays a rationale which explicates that inasmuch as the post-apartheid movement has instituted various approaches of redressing the spatial imbalances experienced in South African rural areas, service provision as a tool of redressing these imbalances has proven to be an illusion. With this challenge in hand, the research establishes the extent to which service delivery is implemented in rural areas as a means of identifying the core challenges encountered by planners in the provision of spatial equity in rural municipalities. Three grounding theories – these being the Public Goods Theory; the Postmodern Urbanism Theory and the Dependency Theory – in addition to literature focused on bringing a better understanding to the notion of spatial inequality are utilised. The rationale behind these was to outline the responsible parties in service delivery and what the outcomes ought to be from an institutional perspective in the context of rural areas of South Africa. However, in the current reality which is evident in rural municipalities such as Impendle, spatial inequality continues to be perpetuated through migratory trends and a negative reliance on the government. In understanding the concept of spatial inequality, the experiences of spatial imbalances were presented in the context of the developed world and the developing world respectively. In highlighting the trends of spatial imbalances in these contexts from the literature presented, the research sought to unravel the origins of spatial inequality by introducing living trends spatially from the medieval context. Substantiating literature concerning spatial inequality in the South African context was outlined which understands the phenomenon to be predominantly rooted in Western traits, as is the case in other third world countries. Using the qualitative research methodology, the study further investigated styles of governance as influential factors in spatial inequality from three prominent ages, these being: the colonial era, the apartheid era and the democratic era successively, with prime focus on rural areas as marginalised neighbourhoods. In addition, the evolution of spatial inequality has been presented in the post-apartheid era, where national, provincial and municipal legislations and policies which shape the transformation of development have been reviewed and analysed as far as their implementation is concerned. Subsequently, the study has identified possible factors which explain the continued backlog in service delivery in such areas, amongst which are conflicts in governance and a lack of resources. Concluding recommendations were also outlined as a solution to these matters.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2018.