Johannesburg - The African National Congress (ANC) deserves more credit for improving the living conditions of poor black South Africans, the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said on Tuesday."The ANC may be accused of a lot of things, but the data we have published is unambiguous that the ANC and the government it leads deserve considerably more credit for improving the living standards of poor and black South Africans," SAIRR deputy chief executive Frans Cronje said in a statement.He agreed with statements made by President Jacob Zuma that South Africa had outdone other African countries in terms of service delivery.Zuma spoke at the SA Local Government Association's (Salga) special national conference in Midrand on Monday.Cronje said: "A myth has taken hold in South Africa that service delivery was a failure; however research we have published over the past several years suggests that this is not the case."According to data published by the research and policy organisation between 1996 and 2010, the number of families living in formal houses had increased by 89.9%.In the same time period, access to water and electricity in households had risen by 127.9% and 76.6% respectively."Increases of a similar magnitude are true for all 15 service delivery indicators tracked by the institute," said Cronje.He said service delivery successes contributed to the number of South Africans living on less than $2 (R16.44) a day declining from 12% in 1994 to 5% in 2012.He said service delivery protests across the country were not a sign of the government's failure to deliver.Instead, the successes of service delivery had raised high expectations which could not be met because of shortcomings in the school system and labour market.On Monday, Zuma said non-delivery of services had to do with problems created and inherited from apartheid, when large parts of the country had no form of local government. *Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.