GovChat is a social media platform that enables real-time conversations between elected councillors and citizens in communities, with the aim of bringing government closer to South Africans.
Through the daily usage of this platform, local government service can improve for the better as councillors will be at the front line of providing instant and credible information to the people they serve. It aims to break barriers of communication and supports civic engagement.
According to the GCIS’ media statement, active social media users are growing at a rate of over 10% year on year in the country. It further states it is estimated that South Africans spend just under three hours on the internet and social media using their mobile phones. This is said to be an opportunity that cannot be ignored.
“For the first time, South African citizens can talk to their elected ward councillors instantly through our social media platform,” says the GCIS’s acting director general, Donald Liphoko. “GovChat allows citizens to engage councillors on issues including housing, access to water and electricity, safety, and job creation initiatives in their areas.”
Citizens can send images, photos, videos, and public and private messages in real time directly to their ward councillors.
“We are pleased that SALGA has integrated GovChat as a valuable communications tool that will connect citizens to their local ward councillors. It will go a long way in bridging the divide between the electorate and public representatives,” adds Liphoko.
This initiative is being rolled out during national Public Service Month, which takes place from Thursday, 1 to Friday, 30 September. This year’s theme is ‘Moving the Public Service Forward: “We Belong, We Care, We Serve”’. The event highlights government services, dedication, commitment, and excellence in the delivery of services to the public.
According to the media statement: “Government believes that active citizenry and social activism is necessary for democracy and development to flourish. The National Development Plan (NDP) states that government ‘cannot merely act on behalf of the people’.”
The GCIS will support the integration of GovChat into other government service programmes in support of the government’s ‘Back to Basics’ approach. The approach ensures communities receive quality services. Ward councillors, irrespective of political affiliation, have been encouraged to register.
is currently available as a web application. Citizens can register as users at www.govchat.org.za
. It will be available on Android and iOS devices in the near future.