Less than five months after it was set up, the Limpopo provincial government's own Premier's Hotline has recorded remarkable success in speedily helping callers in the province to resolve problems.
In April this year, Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale officially launched the province’s Premier’s Hotline to complement the existing Presidential Hotline launched by President Jacob Zuma two years ago.
“The hotline will ensure that the government is able to provide efficient, effective, excellent, equitable and empowering service to the people in the province,” said Premier Mathale. “Departments and municipalities will respond and resolve the complaints brought through the hotline line speedily, competently and satisfactorily,” he added.
The hotline call centre operators take calls in the following official languages: Sesotho sa Leboa, English, isiNdebele, Tshivenda, SiSwati, XiTsonga and Afrikaans.
Located in the Office of Premier Mathale in Polokwane, the call centre is staffed by about 23 operators on a rotating basis, five days a week during office hours.
According to the Hotline Programme Manager Adelaide Phukubyi, the provincial hotline has improved service delivery in the province as more and more people were aware of its existence and its usefulness.
Solved in a month
“Since we started operating last April, we’ve had our hands full as people call to report problems relating to unhappiness about government services from national, provincial, district municipality and local municipality level,” said Phukubyi.
She added that the Hotline had a system that recorded all incoming calls and then checked progress up until the matter has been resolved. The Premier made a commitment to improve service delivery. The aim is to resolve all reported problems within a month from the date the first call was recorded at the call centre.
“We work with other provincial government departments as well as municipalities. On receiving a complaint, we forward the matter at hand to the relevant department or municipality giving them at least two weeks to attend to the problem. During this two-week period, we are able to check on follow-up actions to see what progress had been made,” said Phukubyi.
After the problem had been resolved, Hotline staff follow up with the complainant to make sure that he or she is satisfied with the way it had been dealt with.
– Premier Cassel Mathale
“Presently, we are involved in massive campaign to create awareness about the Premier’s Hotline among the people of the province. We are aware that there is still some confusion among members of the public about the Presidential Hotline and the Premier’s Hotline,” she said.
Many people still believe that reporting the matter to the Presidential Hotline means it will be attended to faster than the Premier’s Hotline, but the work rate is the same. “In fact, the setting up of the Provincial Hotline was set up to reduce the workload of the Presidential Hotline, particularly those calls coming from our Province,” said Phukubyi.
Phukubyi explained that the setting up of the Premier’s Hotline has also helped to do away with duplication; for example where the same person reports the matter to both the Presidential Hotline and the Premier’s Hotline.
The way in which calls are recorded both at the Presidential Hotline and the Premier’s Hotline shows duplicated complaints, which are then assigned to one person to attend to the matter. “This helps to take some pressure off the Presidential Hotline,” she said.
KZN hot on Limpopo's heels
Hot on the heels of the Limpopo Premier's Hotline, the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government officially launched its own Premier's Hotline on 23 September.
The KwaZulu-Natal Premier's Hotline Call Centre, which is housed in the Office of Provincial Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize's Pietermaritzburg Headquarters, also offers a walk-in facility. Head of the Public Liaison Unit in the Premier's Office, Cecil Msomi said this would allow members of the public to visit the call centre to report their problems in person.