Thusong Service Centres, formerly known as Multi Purpose Community Centres, have played a leading role in strengthening citizen’s access to government services which impact on their daily lives.
Rolled out over the past nine years in previously under-serviced areas by government, civil society partners and private sector bodies, these centres have made it easier for citizens to access ID documents, birth and marriage certificates, computer training, health services and UIF applications, among others.
On 7 June 2008, President Thabo Mbeki will launch the 100th centre at Inhlazuka, in KwaZulu-Natal.
Currently, 123 centres are fully operational nationwide. However, these centres are only launched after a reasonable period of operations, to ensure optimum functionality.
The aim of the programme is to re-focus government services to meeting the basic needs of people, particularly those who live below the poverty line in rural, disadvantaged areas, to deliver information and services to them, and to strengthen their access to government.
Such access is about the provision of basic services to the poor and it is about ensuring that developmental opportunities from government and various social partners are accessed through Thusong Service Centres.
These are economic opportunities aimed at assisting individuals and groups to become active players in the economic life of South Africa.
Some of these services include SEDA (the Small Enterprise Development Agency) as well as Youth Advisory Centres established by the Umsobomvu Youth Fund.
Thusong Service Centres will serve as a base from which information and communication activities take place, including government outreach events around the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, promotion and awareness of government’s programme of action and regular Izimbizo events.
Almost 90 GCIS offices have been established in these centres and together with communicators from provincial and local government they will play a leading role in local information campaigns and the distribution of government information materials. The cadres of specialist public servants - the Community Development Workers, similarly use Thusong Service Centres as a base for their work in assisting communities gain access to services, and addressing blockages citizens experience in this process.
This 'one-stop shopping' programme has had a positive impact on the lives of citizens. Government is now more accessible and visible, and information and services are provided with a human face, based on Batho Pele principles. Basic services required by citizens are rendered under one roof, which results in improved, consistent and efficient service delivery to our citizens.
The decentralized service delivery results in people spending fewer resources to access government services. For example, in Augrabies in the Northern Cape, 1096 people accessed government services from the Departments of Home Affairs, Labour and Social Services from July to September 2007. Prior to the establishment of the centre, they had to travel to Upington at a cost of R54 per trip. This results in a saving of R59 189, which could have assisted the poor in their daily quest to make ends meet.
Government is pleased to report that the programme is about to progress into its second phase, with Cabinet approving a 2014 business plan for the initiative, which seeks to establish a Thusong Service Centre in each of South Africa’s 283 municipalities.
Issued by: Dr Essop Pahad, Minister In The Presidency