Presidential Hotline 80% successful

22 February 2012

South Africa’s Presidential Hotline is successfully resolving the majority of calls from citizens with problems or complaints, with the latest figures showing an overall case resolution rate of almost 80 percent.

South Africans can dial 17737 (toll-free from a landline) to get through to a call centre at the President’s office with questions or gripes about government service delivery.

According to the Presidency, citizens use the hotline to raise issues relating to employment, housing, the law, social services, citizenship, electricity, education, health and basic services.

Call agents to be increased

“Since the 31st of January 2012, the hotline logged a total number of 122 589 calls nationwide, with the overall case resolution rate standing at 79.89%,” the Presidency said in a statement this week. “This is a major improvement since 2009, when the resolution rate was at 39%.”

It takes on average 67 working days for a matter recorded with the hotline to be resolved. “However, there are queries which require immediate responses, such as requests for information on government services.”

The number of call agents working on the hotline will be increased from 20 to 30 in June, allowing for two shifts a day of 15 agents per shift.

Hotline information put to good use

The Presidency attributed the hotline’s success to better coordination at senior management level in government, with hotline responsiveness reports now a regular item on the agenda of Forum of South African Directors-General – and a periodic item on the Cabinet’s agenda.

The Department for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation was now using the hotline to inform its “unannounced Front Line Service Delivery Monitoring visits”, the Presidency said, and had begun to engage with departments and municipalities that were often targeted by hotline complaints.

“We are gradually … living up to President Jacob Zuma’s promise that citizens will have a platform to communicate with government and get the assistance they deserve,” said Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane.

The hotline “provides us with good data on which areas need immediate attention, and we will respond,” Chabane added.

Two success stories

The Presidency cited two examples of successful direct responses by the hotline, one in which divorce attorney Thembisile Dlamini complained about delays caused by constant loss of files at the Central Divorce Court in Johannesburg.

The case was referred to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, which intervened immediately. “On investigation, it was established that the file had been transferred to Vereeniging. The department had the file delivered to the attorney’s office, and the attorney was able to proceed with the case.”

The second case involved Ms Thandi Joyce Toso, who had gone to the Department of Labour’s offices in Gauteng to find out why she was not getting the money due to her after her husband’s death, only to be told that her late husband’s information did not appear on the system.

“On investigation, it appeared that the deceased husband was also married traditionally and had another wife. An investigator from the Unemployment Insurance Fund investigated the matter further with the assistance of the Department of Labour head office, and after the correct documents were submitted at the provincial Department of Labour office, the claim was paid out … in full.”

SAinfo reporter