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When President Zuma launched his hotline almost three years ago, this newspaper anticipated the need for added manpower to handle all the calls.
Big demand was certain, given the backlogs and continuing service non-delivery dogging South Africa. As was the expectation that most, if not all, of the calls would be gripes and not compliments or thanks for a responsive bureaucracy. Such is the cocktail of human nature and poor governance.
Residents of KwaZulu-Natal have accounted for 10 730 complaints or queries of the 135 000 received nationwide. With the creation of this ubiquitous presidential ear – a kind of Zuma on electronic walkabout – came the rigid requirement for responses or action on all those grievances and proposals.
What would the point have been, after all, if the hotline soon proved to be a presidential public relations exercise and a mere toy telephone?
Is the hotline worth the trouble, and does it change things? Naturally, the presidency boasts a resolution rate of of 82 percent. Others, though, tell of disappointed callers who turn to them when their grievances are unanswered. Like the human rights group, Black Sash, which speaks of a resolution rate of less than half.
Certainly the outbreaks of unrest in various parts of the country suggest that the discontented are either not using the hotline, or their telephonic input is not being heard. Impatience does not seem to have reduced in spite of the steam-letting that the hotline allows.
KZN is a problem, we’re told, in addressing the complaints. When they are recorded, and dealt out to the responsible departments and provinces to pursue, our provincial authorities have not been up to par. This is apparently being addressed.
This poor response, in the country’s second biggest province population-wise, and the epicentre of Zuma’s constituency, is not smart. Nor is it good strategy to build an expectation of an attentive ear, then allow it to slide into just another deaf bureaucracy.