Research for Development and Justice

Public finance Service charges Trust Local government South Africa

Countries and regions:
Africa: South Africa.

What has trust got to do with it? Non-payment of service charges in local authorities in South Africa

Odd-Helge Fjeldstad (2003)

Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI Working Paper WP 2003:12) 26 p.

A major financial problem in many municipalities in South Africa is the inadequate collection of service charges due to widespread non-payment. The prevailing view is that non-compliance is caused by poverty and the existence of an 'entitlement culture'. However, huge variations in compliance exist both within poor communities and between communities with similar socio-economic characteristics. How can these differences be explained? Moreover, what factors determine citizens' compliance? This paper argues that non-payment is not only related to inability to pay and 'a culture of entitlement', but also to whether citizens perceive the local government to act in their interest. In particular, three dimensions of trust may affect citizens' compliance: (1) trust in the local government to use revenues to provide expected services; (2) trust in the authorities to establish fair procedures for revenue collection and distribution of services; and (3) trust in other citizens to pay their share.


Institutional co-operation between CMI and the School of Government, University of Western Cape
Start: Jan. 2003 (Completed)

Administrative authority and trust between state and society in South Africa
Start: Nov. 2000 (Completed)
Geography: Africa: South Africa.

Human Rights Programme
Start: Jan. 1983 (Completed)
Keywords: human rights

Publications with same geographic focus:

Report in External Series

African Development: What role do the rising powers play?

Elling N Tjønneland (2015) Oslo: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (Report no. January) 10 p.

Publications with similar keywords:

Book Chapter

Entitlement, Affordability or a Matter of Trust? Reflections on the Non-payment of Service Charges in Local Authorities

Odd-Helge Fjeldstad (2005) in Steinar Askvik and Nelleke Bak, eds.: Trust in Public Institutions in South Africa. Aldershot/Burlington: Ashgate pp. 85-100

Journal Article (Peer-Reviewed)

What's trust got to do with it? Non-payment of service charges in local authorities in South Africa

Odd-Helge Fjeldstad (2004) in The Journal of Modern African Studies vol. 42 no. 4 pp. 539-562


Odd-Helge Fjeldstad

Economist focusing on taxation, fiscal corruption and capital flight.

By the same author:

Business people’s views of paying taxes in Ethiopia
Wollela Yesegat; Odd-Helge Fjeldstad (2016)

The rise and fall of the mining royalty regime in Zambia
Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, Caleb Fundanga, Lise Rakner (2016)

Tax reform and state building in a globalized world
Odd-Helge Fjeldstad and Mick Moore (2015)

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