Govt to prioritise poor service delivery

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has directed relevant ministers to prioritise areas that have been affected by poor service delivery.

This follows the recent service delivery protests that have swept the country.

Residents in some of the provinces have raised concerns of financial mismanagement and allegations of fraud and corruption, poor planning, unemployment, lack of housing and health facilities and management of infrastructure, resulting in poor service delivery as their key frustration.

Addressing a press briefing hosted by the National Press Club on Thursday, President Zuma, who on Tuesday paid a surprised visit to the Balfour informal settlement in Siyathemba, Mpumalanga, said he understood the frustration of the people on the ground.

He listened first hand the cries of residents, where the recent wave of service delivery protests started.

"I have gained a real understanding of the anger and frustration, having seen that they have no school, no clinic and lack many other services, including identity documents," he said.

He vowed to visit all areas in the country plagued by service delivery problems and protests. 

The government might have to "reprioritise" some of its programmes as a result of recent service delivery protests, the President said.

He reiterated that "we will always be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. I will always make time to visit communities as I did during the election campaign. I have no intentions of relying solely on reports from departments," he told the reporters.

The protests, he continued, "indicate to us that we were correct to create the planning and performance monitoring and evaluation capacity in the Presidency," he said, adding that it had been lacking in the past.

The President also announced that he would be meeting with premiers and mayors next week to discuss the recent protests. 

This was part of fulfilling the promise he made during the State of the Nation Address where he promised to be an interactive, responsive and effective government.

As part of addressing the service delivery issues, government has set up task teams to ensure that strikes are avoided and service delivery problems are dealt with during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has sent task teams to all provinces to attend to these matters. 

Giving an overview on the highlights in the country since the new government took office, President Zuma said despite the protest, he was generally pleased with the situation of the country. 

"We have put the political tensions of the recent past behind us. Our democracy is as vibrant as ever ... We are all united in working to build a united, stable, prosperous and non-sexist society where all feel included, black and white."

Meanwhile, the call centre to be known as the State Information Technology Agency that will allow citizens to report their concerns about government services will be up and running by 1 September, said President Zuma. 

According to the President all complaints will be thoroughly investigated by the relevant departments and complainants will receive feedback from departments that have wronged them.