President Cyril Ramaphosa
Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa won’t only be responding to points raised by members of Parliament in his State of the Address (SONA) reply on Tuesday - he’ll also be responding to comments by ordinary South African citizens.

This is all thanks to GovChat, the civic engagement platform which enables the government to send messages to the public and receive service delivery related messaging in return at no cost.


GovChat allows South Africans to visit the website, and leave their comments and responses on the website. These comments are seen by government, said the platform’s Chief Executive Officer, Eldrid Jordaan.

“It was important to understand whether there was appetite to engage with the president and government,” Jordaan said.

“It was important for us to understand that from a conversation point of view, the response has been phenomenal.”

Jordaan revealed that there were hundred of comments left by many young South Africans on the website, and these comments have been noted by the presidency.

“The Presidency has been receiving daily reports about the activity and I can confirm that they will be replying to citizens in the SONA reply,” he said.  

“Various conversations from citizens that had been put the GovChat platform.

“There are many issues like the healthcare system, public transport, and drought which are the majority of the issues that citizens want addressed by the new president.”

Besides allowing for citizens to post their comments on the website, the GovChat team was invited by African Union (AU) Commission to represent South Africa and GCIS at the AU ICT Week in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire in 2016.

“It was a huge honour, just to be celebrated and to showcase Africa's technology,” Jordaan said.

“We got a standing ovations at that high level which included many world leaders, and we've been asked by many other countries if they could have in theirs.

“With help from the AU we could see it rolled out in the other 54 states within the continent.”

Jordaan said it was important that citizens know they know have a engagement space, it's not a closed platform.

“We hope that they use the platform and report their concerns in a responsible manner.”

Some of the comments about what Ramaphosa should say on Tuesday include:

Dr Eltie Links (Former SA Ambassador to the EU)

"Mr President you have already made a BIG difference in how the world views our country after just a few weeks in leadership. BUT, this perception is still based on you as person. What we and the world need is the certainty of economic policy and its framework. Please provide just broad strokes in your speach to guide our expectations in the economic policy sphere."

Leeroy Sauls (Drummer for Bra Hugh Masekela)

"Empowerment through music teaching kids to use the talents and direct them using expertise. I am a testimony of a young boy growing up in the location Of bonteheuwel I’m Cape Town , I now reside in jhb, I have worked with Hugh masekela for the last 9 years before he died. My major aim is to change lives thru music and impact change and educate shift attention from the negative and make a positive influemcee through music lessons."

Kim Cloete (Suidooster Actor and TV Personality)

"I hope you will make work of bringing to justice the players in the state capture and make an example of people who think that our country is for sale. 

"PS: Please start supporting the arts as much as we do sport."

Amaru Da Costa (DJ BlackCoffee's Manager)

"It would be lovely to hear what the president has planned to encourage public transport usage. Our roads are heavily congested and it’s becoming more and more difficult to commute."

Barend Petersen (Executive Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines)

"The President's speech gave direction to South Africa, rekindled hope of a better life for all and will fuel a desire to lend a hand and sacrificially participate in service to our nation."

Minister of Higher Education Hlengiwe Mkhize

"Congratulations my President Cyril Ramaphosa, we're looking forward to have you as our President is a Blessing!!"

Yusuf Abramjee (Activist)

"Dear President

Thank you for mentioning the drought in SONA. I agree: it’s only the responsib of government. We all need to work together and hold hands. #SaveWater must become a way of life. We are driving a initiative in partnership with the Dept of Water and Sanitation and we call on all citizens to join us. Let’s mobilize and #SaveWater in every corner of the country. We as civil society pledge to do our bit. Yusuf Abramjee, chief Ambassdor for #SaveWater"

Cameron Dugmore (Member of the Provincial Legislature)

"1.Ensure business delivers on promise to create 1 000 000 Youth Jobs

2. Amend Public Service Regulations to make it compulsory to respond to an email within 24 hours."

Dr Lleywellyn Macmaster (Former Stellenbosch University Dean of Students)

"Please resolve land issue ASAP, with particular focus on the Khoisan rights."

Yankey August (African Union Commission)

"We live in a connected world where two-thirds of the world's population now has a mobile phone of which more than half are smartphones. In the process, 9 out of 10 people use their smartphone to access information via social networks because more than 80% of public information is now on the internet. This is a great tool to help us better manage public resources. We must harness this opportunity to increase transparency, accountability and efficiency in the management of the common good, our public resources. As leader of the nation, you, too, must use technology to help you in your mission as servant of the State, of the nation. Considering an electronic platform to report, to interact with communities in regular basis could ensure more transparency in the management of the country. Yankey"

Ebrahim Englis (Radio Personality)

"We seriously need to relook our education system. We need to raise the quality and standard especially in poorer areas so that we create better equipped youth to have a greater positive impact in all spheres."

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Cape Argus