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Frequently Asked Questions



What are Thusong Service Centres?
Thusong Service Centres are one-stop centres where local, provincial and national government, as well as other sector service-providers, offer Services and developmental information to local communities. These centres operate within a framework of Batho Pele principles and values. This means communities around Thusong Service centres identify Services offered by the centre based on their needs. Each centre is different and can either be located in a single building, or be part of a cluster of buildings. The infrastructure is influenced by the Services offered, population size and distances between access points in an area. This results in the establishment of hub centres which offer permanent Services including, government, economic, community and private sector Services, education and skills development, telecommunication, communication and information. Satellite centres and mobiles which are extensions of the hub centre, offer some of the above Services according to demand.

 

Who is responsible for the establishment and roll-out plan for Thusong Service Centres?
  • Local municipalities are responsible for the establishment and management of Thusong Service Centres, including site identification.
  • At district level the Integrated Development Plan forums coordinate the implementation of the programme including development of the roll-out plans.
  • Each province has a Provincial Intersectoral Steering Committee (PISSC) led by the relevant Office of the Premier, responsible for the coordination, monitoring and oversight of service delivery in the Centres including development of the provincial roll-out plan which is informed by the plans of district municipalities.
  • At national level, The Department of Communications leads the National Intersectoral Steering Committee (NISSC-comprising national departments, PISSC chairpersons, parastatals, the business sector, NGOs, universities and other stakeholders.)


Each municipality will have at least one Thusong Service Centre by 2014. Centres will differ based on population size, demand for Services and distances between access points in a community.

If you are interested in initiating or becoming a partner in Thusong Service Centres the 2006-2014 Business Plan provides clear outlines for establishing and sustaining these centres.

2006-2014 Business Plan(PDF)

 

Why is there a need for Thusong Service Centres?
Thusong Service Centres help people who could not reach government in the past. Getting information and Services from government was difficult because of the frustration of being sent from place to place and office to office without getting any help. This led to despondency and a lack of faith in government to provide effective Services. It is worse in rural areas where distances are vast and travelling to urban centres to get Services and information is expensive. It is for this reason that Thusong Service Centres have been identified as the main way of implementing development communication. They can offer various Services that communities can use to better their lives.

 

What Services are rendered by Thusong Service Centres?

Government departments and others sectors offer information and Services at the Thusong Service Centres. However, these differ from centre to centre according to community needs. The types of Services you can find include:

  • Government Services such as applications for identity documents, passports, death and birth certificates, pensions, welfare grants, unemployment insurance, information on issues such as health, government structures and organisations, labour issues, citizen rights, education, contact information, etc.
  • Telecommunication Services such as: gateway portal, computers, internet, e-mail, Information Terminals (PITs). This helps communities to use technology to better their lives.
  • Education and skills development training Services such as: Computer Training, Adult Basic Education Training (ABET), opening a business, sewing, art, etc.
  • Partnership Services such as: commercial and community Services which include community banking, craft shops, women's clubs, food production programmes, etc.
  • Two-way communication between government and citizens. The community can share their views on government programmes, policies and activities. They can make their needs known through izimbizo, community meetings and workshops, youth forums, women’s groups, disabled persons meetings, meetings of senior citizens, etc .
  • Local economic development activities including meetings, workshops, community and commercial businesses in the centres

 

How do Thusong Service Centres promote development communication?

Development communication is about providing communities with information they can use to change their lives for the better. This is based on Batho Pele principles which put people first, and uses the communication methods practised in communities.

The main focus of development communication and information is on the poor and disadvantaged who had little or no access to information. They are found mainly in marginalised communities whether in urban or rural areas.

Development communication focuses mainly on face-to-face interaction between government and people.

This approach addresses topics such as:

  • Rights and duties of citizens
  • Government policies and programmes
  • Development opportunities and how to access them
  • Information about government campaigns.

Development communication methods include:

  • Government material written in simple language
  • Government material written in local languages
  • Suitable methods for those who cannot read or write such as drama
  • Community radio
  • Community participation using local networks.

 

Who runs a Thusong Service Centre?

A Thusong Service Centre is run by a centre manager assisted by support staff responsible for maintenance, reception, security and the grounds. Staff is employed by the local municipality and in some cases by the provincial government.
There are also different management models in different areas. In some cases centres are managed by communities themselves.

The responsibilities of the centre manager are:

  • Supervising staff in the centre
  • Monitoring service provision
  • Assessing and evaluating service delivery including community research
  • Facilitating partnership with stakeholders to add value to service
  • Promoting the centre through various activities
  • Managing and maintaining assets in the centre including building and other equipment
  • Reporting to municipality and stakeholders
  • Managing general administration of the centre including record keeping

The centre is managed by a centre management committee comprised of municipality representatives, ward committee members, some government departments, community leaders and other members. The committee ensures the co-ordination of the activities of service-providers. Its role includes:

  • Updating the profile of the community around the centre
  • Upgrading service and information needs
  • Facilitating the entry of new service-providers to the centre
  • Monitoring operations from the reports of the centre manager and service-providers
  • Evaluating service provision according to Batho Pele principles
  • Assisting the centre manager with administrative functions such as budgeting, monitoring, staff evaluation, fund-raising and human resource management
  • Motivating for special events at the Thusong Service Centre, such as Imbizos, youth programmes, training, workshops etc.
  • Lobbying for the expansion of the centre according to community needs

 

Where does funding for Thusong Service Centres come from?

Proper management is central to the sustainability of centres It is therefore vital to have funds and a proper system of financial management in place.

There are various options for funding the establishment of centres. These options include:

  • Municipal infrastructure grant (MIG)
  • Neighbourhood Development Programme Fund from National Treasury
  • Public private partnership for sponsorship, alignment of infrastructure
  • Alignment of departmental budgets

Municipalities are responsible for the maintenance of the centre and therefore it becomes critical for them to cost and budget for this accordingly.

 

What lessons have we learnt from established Thusong Service Centres?

Municipalities have taken charge of the establishment process of the centres and by 2014 every municipality countrywide will have one. Important lessons from existing centres since December 1999 are:

  • Municipalities should prioritise the programme in the Integrated Development Plans
  • Municipalities should budget for the roll-out
  • Installment of technology in rural areas is costly.
  • Thusong service centres are platforms for two way communication
  • Offices of the Premier play a critical leadership role in the coordinating and monitoring of service provision to ensure sustainability
  • Partnerships are important for the success of the centres.

 

Is it possible for our organisation to start a Thusong Service Centre in our area?
Stakeholders include communities; partners or government departments. Potential stakeholders should approach local municipalities when interested in establishing Thusong Service Centres. Centres are part of a Municipality’s Integrated Development Plan.
Communities should also consult the District and the Provincial Intersectoral Steering Committee(PISSC) for information about Thusong Service Centre roll-out.
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