South Africa: KZN Social Development Ramps Up Services

The Kwazulu — Natal Social Development Department has undertaken to ramp up service delivery to communities in that province.

KZN Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza made the commitment at the launch of Operation Sigalelekile ("We've arrived") held at eMathafeni, in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Operation Sigalelekile is aimed at bringing integrated government services to the people, in response to a number of challenges facing communities who struggle to access services.

At the launch on Tuesday, the department, in collaboration with the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and National Development Agency, joined other departments in rendering services to the people.

Services rendered included processing grant applications, and doctors who were brought in to provide medical examinations as one of the prerequisites for disability grants.

Social workers also had an opportunity to process the registration of foster care grants and on-site registration of non-profit organisations (NPOs).

Khoza said Operation Sigalelekile will go a long way in restoring public confidence in government.

"We have been receiving a lot of complaints from members of the public about grant applications, which often take longer to be finalised due to a number of documents that are required. Therefore, having SASSA, social workers and doctors in one space has helped to [cut down] the process," Khoza said.

The MEC said she was very pleased with the community response to the initiative.

"We have also conducted household visits to get first-hand experience on the living conditions of our people in the area. In some households we visited, we realised that their living conditions are unpleasant. Our social workers and municipality will make the necessary interventions to address the challenges we discovered."

Khoza stressed that officials must spend more time reaching out to communities.

"Government officials should not relax when people are unhappy about the quality of services they receive. We were taken aback when some people told us that they can't apply for child support grants because their children have no birth certificates and parents themselves have no identity documents," she said.

Khoza said the department will criss-cross the province to ensure that people receive services close to their homes.

"In some areas, our people are unable to travel to our offices to get services. Ours is to get closer to where the people reside. As we go to communities, we will travel with many departments, including Health, Home Affairs and our agencies like SASSA, and the National Development Agency.

"We also have concerns about the lack of development among our youth and women, and we want to ensure that they get help from all government agencies," Khoza said.

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