The OR Tambo District Municipality in Mthatha has been given the first of its kind platform called Thetha Nathi, which means "Talk to Us".
The new platform was launched last week by the municipality and the mobile network provider.
Vuyani Jarana, the chief officer Enterprise Business Unit at Vodacom, said there were communication gaps between the government and citizens.
“Vodacom is using mobile technology to bring about administrative efficiency and enhance communication between the government and citizens in an effort to support service delivery. We are essentially bringing the government to the people and providing an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability in the process. As a corporate citizen, Vodacom is responsible for helping the government deliver services as efficiently as possible and we are excited to see the positive change which the Thetha Nathi and Link solutions will bring to communities across the country.”
For the first phase of deployment, the municipality has prioritised the management of water and sanitation.
“We have launched this app at a rural area first - to help this municipality to express or complain about their social issues. We wanted to change the perception that technology is associated with urban areas, whereas rural areas can also use it,” said Jarana.
Through Information and communication technology the government would use the same platform to respond to any queries logged by residents to dispatch water management technicians, ensuring a speedy response to all residents’ water management complaints.
“This is an interaction that allows citizens to communication with the government on a range of social issues. In OR Tambo we have launched the module for water-related issues. This will allow the people of the district to report incidents, whether it’s the quality of water, shortage of water and broken pipes. They will use the app as well as the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), which is meant for those who do not own a smartphone to download the Thetha Nathi app,” said Jarana.
OR Tambo District Municipality through its partnership with Vodacom is now fully equipped with internet connectivity and a specialist call centre was established to support the app’s deployment. The platform is available for use on feature and smart phones. Through a USSD service (*134*606#) or by downloading the app from the IOS App store or Google Playstore. The app accommodates various languages, including English and Xhosa.
Executive mayor Councillor Nomakhosazana Meth said Vodacom and the OR Tambo district municipality had been working together for a long time now.
“We’ve been in partnership with Vodacom for almost ten years now; we are actually celebration a decade of partnership. We agreed on not treating 2017 the same as those other old years. This year we will go radical in doing the service deliveries for the people of OR Tambo municipality in honour of the late legendary Oliver Reginald Tambo,” said Meth.
Vodacom has launched a second zero-rated general community application called Link.
The Link is available to use across the country. It would provide platform for additional services including the ability to connect to a variety of the Internet of Things devices.