Presidential hotline taking coronavirus calls


To ensure South Africans can interact with the government to receive services during the lockdown, the presidential hotline is assisting to resolve issues on the ground.

The hotline, which was launched in 2009 for people to escalate grievances with government departments, has since the start of the lockdown in March received an average of 65 calls a day.

An average of 90% of the complaints has been resolved.

The hotline recently received 1,470 calls, of which 92.8% were related to the pandemic.

The top five issues raised were queries about social benefits such as grants, food parcels, employment and Unemployment Insurance Fund matters, health-related services and travelling to foreign countries.

Deputy Minister in the Presidency Thembi Siweya visited the hotline office in Pretoria yesterday to monitor its effectiveness in dealing with coronavirus-related issues and facilitating citizen-government engagement.

To adhere to social distancing regulations, most of the 18 call centre agents are working from home, while a few operate from the State Information Technology Agency office.

“We want our people to interact with us and we will canvass more people to use the hotline,” said Siweya yesterday.

Since it was launched more than 10 years ago, the hotline has logged 270,000 calls. But yesterday, 154 calls were received.

While the numbers might seem low, this was only because the hotline is often the last resort.

The agency’s executive caretaker, Luvuyo Keyise, explained this was because the presidential hotline was the last option for matters not resolved at the department level.

“When people are frustrated by other platforms, they turn to the presidential hotline.

“They first try somewhere else, like report directly to the government department, and then turn to the presidency if the department has not yet resolved their issues.

“If we had received millions of calls, it would mean the government was not working to resolve issues,” he explained.

Citizens are encouraged to interact with the government by dialling the toll-free hotline number 17737.

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Source: The Citizen


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