South Africa: talk directly to local government

Millions of South Africans are online, which the country is exploiting to bring local government closer to the people. Residents can communicate directly with officials through a new digital platform, which allows them to send instant messages to ward councillors.

GovChat
GovChat is an online platform that allows South Africans to communicate directly with ward councillors. (Image: Screengrab via YouTube)

Brand South Africa reporter

Internet technology has vastly improved communication. And now there is a platform that gives South Africans a direct line to their respective ward councillors. What’s more, residents are also able to send images, photos, videos, public and private messages in real time.

The platform is an initiative of the South African Local Government Association (Salga).Follow these five easy steps to access it:

  1. Visit www.govchat.org.za and choose the registration button.
  2. Fill in your account details and choose a password you’ll remember easily.
  3. Set up your profile and share your location.
  4. Set up your membership.
  5. Agree to the terms and conditions and click on ‘complete sign up’.

Once you receive the activation email and follow the directions, you are able to join the conversation. 

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Advantages

“We are pleased that Salga has integrated GovChat as a valuable communications tool that will connect citizens to their local ward councillors,” said Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) director-general Donald Liphoko.

GovChat aims to break barriers of communication and support civic engagement.“It will go a long way in bridging the divide between the electorate and public representatives.“The service will improve for the better as councillors will be at the frontline of providing instant and credible information to the people they serve,” the government said.GovChat, said Liphoko, gave people the opportunity to speak to councillors on many topics, including housing, access to water and electricity, safety and job creation initiatives in their areas.

The country’s National Development Plan calls for a “responsive, accountable, effective, local government system”, and GovChat is a step towards attaining that goal.According to the GCIS, South Africans are becoming increasingly connected. There are more than 26 million active internet users, 13 million of whom are active social media users.The plan for the near future is to make GovChat available on Android and iOS devices.

Click here to go to the GovChat site.

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