Citizens get direct line to ward councillors

Pretoria - The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) has introduced a social media platform that allows councillors to respond quickly to questions raised by citizens.

GovChat allows citizens to send images, photos, videos, public and private messages in real time, directly to their ward councillors.

Through the use of GovChat, it is hoped that it will become easier to address some of the problems that have led to the growth of service delivery protests.

GovChat is currently available as a web application and citizens can register as users on . The platform will be available on Android and iOS devices in future.

Government says service will improve for the better as councillors will be at the frontline of providing instant and credible information to the people they serve. GovChat aims to break barriers of communication and support civic engagement.

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) has congratulated SALGA on the introduction of GovChat, which it says promotes the Back to Basics approach that ensures communities receive quality services.

Acting GCIS Director General Donald Liphoko said government believes that active citizenry and social activism is necessary for democracy and development to flourish.

The National Development Plan (NDP) states that government cannot merely act on behalf of the people.

“We are pleased that SALGA has integrated GovChat as a valuable communications tool that will connect citizens to their local ward councillors. It will go a long way in bridging the divide between the electorate and public representatives,” said Liphoko.

Active social media users is growing at a rate of over 10% year-on-year in South Africa. On average, South Africans spend just under three hours a day on the internet and social media using their mobile phones. Over 26 million South Africans are active internet users, 13 million of whom are active social media users. It is estimated that over 85 million mobile connections exist in the country.