Thursday, July 7, 2011

Good service delivery begins with you!

Lazy public official

Having waited for over a year for the South African Department of Home Affairs to render a certain official service for my wife, it took an email to the Director General to finally get it done. Before the email, our local regional office could not give a concrete explanation for the delay; neither could the department’s phone-in help desk. The email reminded them that we had a legal obligation to receive at least a progress update for a service that we had paid for. It also reminded them that a year of waiting was not in line with the minister's new vision for the department. The response was speedy, to say the least. All this took place a few weeks ago and viola; we were happy clients as of yesterday!

While the speedy intervention is much appreciated and the positive and apologetic manner in which the query was handled made up in part for the initial poor service, it got me thinking. Why does it take a complaint to the higher echelons of organisational hierarchy to receive basic service that is often a right? This is especially true when it comes to government departments. Who has not read or watched news reports of pregnant women suffering miscarriages while nurses in public hospitals chat away? Few can say they have never heard of young men and women who have waited for years to receive their school leaving certificates and due to that, cannot attend university or find employment. Do not get me started on water and electricity provision by the municipalities. As surely as the sun shines however, throw in a TV exposé or strong complaint to leadership and these crises evaporate with astounding efficiency and in record time!

This trend is common throughout the world, in all the continents. What vary are the levels of inefficiency and the levels of tolerance that people have for this poor service delivery. It does not take rocket science to see that out there are multitudes of rude and lazy public servants sitting on their fat behinds and earning salaries that they do little or no work for.  What we fail to remember however, is that it is your vote, your service fee, your tariffs and your taxes that keep these people employed. If these people are not delivering, it is within your rights to express your disapproval and demand the type of service that you deserve. Believe it or not, it is within your rights as well to give them the boot should they fail to shape up. It is high time that we as the public shouldered some of the blame for the suffering that we endure at the hands of these slobs, instead of only blaming government. Think about this the next time that you complain. What steps have YOU taken to put this house in order? The change that you yearn for begins with you!

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