Keith Blake, Ottery
The biggest political customer or client in South Africa is you and I, the voter, the ones who have their rights set out in especially Chapter 7, Section 152 of the Constitution of South Africa.
In this section is sub-section (1) (b) to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner.
This chapter commands as law what local government officials must do to serve us in our communities.
The reason for my letter is the timing factor by our local government officials to address issues that have been brought to their attention whether verbally or in writing.
I am basing my issue on personal experiences and testimonies from fellow residents of all walks of life.
To add meat to my argument is the establishment of an ombudsman to address complaints and one of the main complaints is the timing factor to issues not being addressed.
When a person reports an issue that affects them personally or the community as a whole to local government, and that is normally to the elected councillor, they expect those issues to be addressed as soon as possible.
Impatience in a service delivery issue can cause a person to lose faith, tempers to rise and can become violent and this trend is even worse and frightening if the citizen becomes a crowd.
One sees daily on our news screens and on radios how citizens, due to the long wait, take to angry protest.
Numerous departments in local government, and this includes law enforcement, get negative publicity all due to the time factor some department staff take to address, or at times not address, concerns raised by the citizen or the communities.
In my experience the negative time task frames happen in the following manner: No answer to any correspondence, no answering of telephones or the telephone calls are not returned, issues are not addressed or are ignored, no personal contact whatsoever is made with the persons reporting an issue, issues that are addressed take months or years to sort out, updates on issues are not communicated and so cause frustration and unhappiness and a feeling of not being listened to.
I stand corrected but as I went through the constitution in regards to the roles and functions of municipalities and local government, nowhere is it stipulated that time frames are to be set and adhered to and this is the problem in South Africa.
We allow too much time for an issue to be resolved.
Yes, there are issues that take time but the officials dealing with the issues can take the anger and frustration out of the equation by communicating to the communities on the progress made.
However, there is no place in our society for a delayed response by officials and departments in the case of an emergency.
A few hints to address the issues: acknowledge the receiving of the
issue in writing; read or listen to the issue and do an assessment and be bold and honest if the issue for some legal reason cannot be addressed or cannot in the following time frame be addressed; action the issue to the finances and resources available and inform the citizen or citizens; keep a hands on approach to get the issue addressed in a time frame; give a progress report on the issues being addressed and; give the final outcome of the issue.