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Groundbreaking Municipal App to enhance participatory democracy

Oudtshoorn, 16 March 2017 – Oudtshoorn Mayor, Colan Sylvester has hailed the ground-breaking citizen engagement mobile application (APP), which is set to provide easy and direct municipal communication, as a game-changer that will enhance participatory democracy.

Mayor Sylvester was addressing attendees during an official launch of the Municipal App hosted by the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, in Cape Town on Wednesday, 15 March 2017.

“The key to successful local government is to unlock these life changing opportunities through creating an E-society and smart towns by using technology as an enabler to harness service delivery,” said Sylvester.

“Mobile applications have fundamentally overhauled the basic principles that govern humanity’s ability to interact with one another. The cellular platform has facilitated drastic advancements in participatory democracy; hence the launch and active use of this APP would certainly improve our relationship with the citizens.”

The APP is the latest technological development by die Western Cape Department of Local Government, following standardized websites for municipalities rolled out in 2016. Initially ten Municipalities were provided with these standardized websites. This has since been expanded to 19 out of the 30 municipalities in the province.

“We’ve recognised that the way our citizens want to interact with their local municipality is changing and we are responding to that need,” said Minister Bredell.

“This APP will take local government, its decisions and processes straight into the homes of citizens and provide them with a real opportunity to take an active part in how their municipalities are managed. There will no longer be a need to attend council meetings or town hall meetings to be able to partake in municipal processes.”

The man behind this development, Mr. Mohammed Parker, a deputy director in the Western Cape Department of Local Government says the APP is currently being piloted in following five municipalities across the province: Oudtshoorn, Langeberg, Overstrand, Laingsburg Swartland and municipalities.

“The initial municipalities will have the APP rolled out in full over the next twelve months. We plan to have a complete roll-out across the province by 2018/19 financial year.”

Some of the APP’s key features:

  • Providing a direct channel of communication with the Municipality;
  • This will enhance decision-making process and
  •  Enable faster response to service requests.
  • The APP will enhance engagement with decision-making processes of the Municipality including approvals and inputs on municipal budgets;

Mr. Graham Paulse, the head of department says the time is ripe for this innovation.

“Smart phone penetration is increasing and with the broadband rollout in the province, the department is now increasingly able to innovate responsibly.”

Bredell says the APP will be free for all users and compatible on all platforms whether smart phone or feature phones.

“This innovation represents a giant leap forward in local government and forms part of our strategy to enhance transparent and accessible government for all citizens in the Western Cape,” Bredell said.