Presidential hotline swamped

2009-12-03 08:48

The presidency has conceded that less than a third of the

complaints lodged to President Jacob Zuma’s public hotline have been handled

successfully since the service was launched in mid-September.

It said on Wednesday that between September 14 and November 27,

there were 30?650 calls to the hotline of which 9?190 cases were resolved.

The presidency said the hotline was not able to cope with the

number of calls from South Africans complaining about delivery issues.

“The presidential hotline is not able to handle the call load at

this stage. Even if we were to scale up the number of call agents, we can only

do so up to a certain limit –given that resources are limited.”

The presidency said provincial departments have been slow in

responding to complaints listed with the hotline, resolving only 18% received in

the past three months. National departments fared somewhat better with


It said Zuma has urged all premiers and ministers to take steps to

remedy the situation and “ensure all enquiries transferred to them for

investigation are responded to urgently and efficiently”.

Complaints included crime, housing shortages, unfair labour

practices, difficulties with banks and insurance companies, breaches of contract

by government departments and requests for funding, including bursaries.

There were also numerous complaints from political parties

“especially the Democratic Alliance”, which has been scathing about the quality

of service.

The Independent Democrats called for a bigger budget for the


“It is imperative that government responds to our people’s needs

faster than this. We therefore call on the presidency to urgently look at hiring

more call agents,” the party’s national organiser Joe Mcgluwa said.

He suggested the presidency negotiate a deal with cellphone

operators to enable the public to reach the hotline toll-free from their

mobiles, as is the case with landlines.

According to the presidency, 95% of calls to the hotline are made

from mobile phones.

The hotline started out with a budget of R4 million, but was

allocated an additional R7.6?million in the adjustments budget in October.

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