Zuma declares hotline a success

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has declared the Presidential Hotline, which has received an overwhelming response from South Africans, a success.

"I can see that government is in conversation with the nation," said the President at the official launch of the hotline on Tuesday.

He said despite the inevitable hiccups since the project became operational on 14 September, he was pleased with the progress that has been made.

The toll free hotline - which can be reached at 17737 - was launched to give the public a direct line to the President's office where they can report corruption and lodge complaints about service delivery at all government levels.

Most of the thousands of callers logged complaints related to housing, water and electricity.

"Housing matters range from unfinished RDP houses, the slow pace of housing delivery to alleged corruption in municipalities," President Jacob Zuma told guests.

According to the President, the department which received the most complaints was the Department of Labour. The complaints related to corruption, unfair dismissals and general unemployment challenges.

Many callers made allegations of corruption in the Department of Social Development's social grant system. They also complained about the lack of access to grants.

The Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform also topped of the list with complaints of corruption and inefficient officials.

With regards to trends per province, 30 percent of enquiries were received from Gauteng. This was followed by Limpopo, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. The Northern Cape and Mpumalanga registered the lowest number of enquiries.

Zuma told the gathering that most of the youths who called in, had wanted to know what they could do about their failure to pay school or university fees. They also raised concerns about the challenges of access to higher education especially by the poor.

"There are also many cases relating to abuse of power by government officials at various levels and allegations of fraud and corruption."

To address these challenges, Zuma reiterated that government will be pressing ahead with service delivery and its improvement mechanisms.

"We have to continue with our efforts to re-orientate our public service towards putting people first," he said, adding that working together with departments can touch and change many lives.

"Many callers are people who have spent months or even years trying to get their problems resolved to no avail," said Zuma, who also had first hand experience with some of the complainants.