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Public Administration News  
South Africa: Government Puts People First
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Monday, October 27, 2014
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs, Citizen Engagement
Country: South Africa
Created: Oct 27, 2014

Guided by the month’s theme, “Reinventing the way Public Service Works, Batho Pele”, the Thusong Week’s activities will deepen this focus as they will mainly concentrate on encouraging service providers within the centres to promote the Batho Pele principles in the way they render services and conduct themselves.

Minister Muthambi was joined at the launch by officials from the City of Tshwane. The team engaged with the centre manager, who demonstrated how the model of the Mamelodi service centre works.

Other activities during the launch included interacting with the local Aids Training Project, which will form a working partnership with the centre for public meetings on related topics.

Minister Muthambi did a walkabout at Denlyn Mall, where she, along with the other officials, introduced the services offered at a Thusong Center to the people. During this session, the Minister listened to people from all walks of life, some of whom are unemployed youth, who had benefited from government’s training programmes.

Minister Muthambi encouraged more South Africans to make use of the services given at the Thusong centres.

“These centres are there to build the much needed bridges between the government and its people. Practically, these centres do not just disseminate information for the sake of it, but underline what we mean by development communications – communications that empowers our people,” said Minister Muthambi.

Serving with care

Minister Muthambi reminded public servants of their responsibility towards communities.

She outlined eight principles that she said every public servant should embody.
Consultation: Citizens should be consulted about the level and quality of the public services they receive and, wherever possible, should be given a choice about the services that are offered.

Service standards: Citizens should be told what level and quality of public service they will receive so that they are aware of what to expect.
The principles are as follows:
Access: All citizens should have equal access to the services to which they are entitled.
Courtesy: Citizens should be treated with courtesy and consideration.
Information: Citizens should be given full accurate information about the public services they are entitled to receive.
Openness and transparency: Citizens should be told how national and provincial departments are run, how much they cost and who is in charge.
Redress: If the promised standard of service is not delivered, citizens should be offered an apology, a full explanation and a speedy and effective remedy. When complaints are made, citizens should receive a sympathetic, positive response.
Value for money: Public services should be provided economically and efficiently in order to give citizens the best possible value for money.

“If all abide by these principles, our service to the public will improve exponentially.

“I look forward to a changed culture of serving our people and hopefully a national dialogue will be triggered by activities set aside for this week to mark the existence of these centres,” said Minister Muthambi.

Helping the nation

Currently, there are 183 Thusong Service Centres established in 107 Local Municipalities countrywide. These are complemented by 114 integrated mobile routes taking government services to the far flung areas.

The following government services can be found at the centres: applications for identity documents, birth certificates, social grants and the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and municipal services that are provided by the departments such as Home Affairs, Labour, Justice and Constitutional Development as well as the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).

More about Thusong centres

The Thusong Service Centre Programme is one of the first unique initiatives implemented by the South African democratic government, which integrates services across the three spheres of government, namely national, provincial and local.

This year marks the 15th year of the programme’s existence. The programme not only creates access to government information and services, but also enables communities to access opportunities offered by other civil society groups such as businesses, NGOs and parastatals.

There are 14 tele-centres within the Thusong centres. These tele-centres are managed by young entrepreneurs, thus creating job opportunities and assisting to widen government access to information, particularly in the rural areas.

The programme has enjoyed the support of the business community (particularly the mines), where a major capital injection was given towards the construction of the centres as part of the Business Cooperate Social Responsibility.

To date, about 109 centre managers and caretakers have been assigned to oversee the operations of the centres and to ensure that they operate at their optimum level.
For more information on the Thusong programme, visit www.thusong.gov.za.
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