Mutually accountable citizen and government partnership delivers services

A number of issues plague South African small towns, including a lack of water and a ‘brain drain’ of talented people moving to larger cities. Additionally, many small-town municipalities are stretched to their limits and unable to deliver even the most basic services. In response the Towns Action Network is actively cultivating joint problem solving and action towards small-town regeneration.
Lelethu Zono from Joza Location in Makhanda is part of a growing number of ordinary South Africans taking charge of the change they want to see in their communities by holding the government accountable for service delivery.
Zono is a citizen reformer with the Public Service Accountability Monitor’s (PSAM) Action for Accountability Project in Makhanda, which encourages citizen and government partnership to achieve accountability and consistent service delivery.
The PSAM is part of the Towns Action Network (TAN), a broad church of partners from small towns across the country promoting activities that build small-town regeneration. TAN was formed in response to the serious challenges that residents of small towns face.
Zono explains: “There is a water shortage where we live. We get water three times a week or sometimes we don’t get it and the refuse doesn’t get collected. We have to store water because there is a possibility that the next day you won’t have water. This is the second year of no water but only some people have JoJo tanks so that they have water. You need to wash, and you need to drink water and so there’s no coping mechanism for not having water.”
But Zono is undeterred by this and believes in getting her hands dirty, alongside the government, to turn things around. Trained by the PSAM, Zono collects information from residents about service delivery issues, which is mapped and fed back to the government in council meetings that citizen reformers attend in a bid to hold the council accountable for delivery.
Zono dismisses the common refrain that it is only the government’s job to deliver services, not citizens.
Read in Daily Maverick: “New Activist Exchange dares to forge new ways to advance ‘project South Africa’”
“People must start somewhere. The government is the people. It’s important to keep open the line of communication between us and government. There’s always something that we as citizens can do.”
Zono’s journey as an agent of transformation in her community has been empowering.
“If you don’t believe in anything then you can’t stand up for anything. Doing this has ...
15 Dec 2022 6AM English South Africa News · Daily News

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