Presidential hotline launched today

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pretoria - From 9am today, members of the public will be able to dial 17737 and speak directly to the President's office.

Twenty one specially trained Public Liaison Officers will take up their seats and start handling calls and responding to general public inquiries, complaints over service delivery and questions about government.

These staff will be supported by a network of 43 Public Liaison Officers. Each department and each province has assigned a Public Liaison Officer who will help deal with enquires that can not be solved by the Presidency alone.

They will have the responsibility of following up the public enquiries and complaints lodged, and ensuring that all are attended to efficiently.

Callers will have the option of being helped in a variety of languages and calls will be recorded and logged for quality, tracking and monitoring purposes.

A call log will assist the Presidency in monitoring turnaround times as well as gathering statistics such as which department has received the most complaints.

The Presidency is expecting to handle around 1500 calls per day and should be operational between 7.30am and 10pm.

But, some callers may be lucky enough to speak to the President himself. President Jacob Zuma will have a direct link to an online platform where he can take calls directly, depending on his schedule and when he is in his office.

Zuma had announced in his State of the Nation Address and Budget Speech earlier this year that he intended setting up a toll free hotline to deal with and handle public enquires.

According to Vusi Mona, Deputy Director General in the Presidency, the Presidential Hotline is a project that is close the Zuma's heart.

He said the hotline would become a key service delivery improvement instrument and monitoring and evaluation tool, which was of importance to the new administration.

According to the Presidency, the next few weeks will be spent perfecting the R4 million service and ensuring that all technical and operating aspects work efficiently.

"The hotline and public liaison service aims to encourage an all-round improvement in citizen care and liaison and introduce a culture of putting the citizen first in all government departments as well as municipalities, as part of the President's directive to create an interactive, accessible and responsive government," said the Presidency.

There are plans to have the service taken to local government level, including rural municipalities and districts.