The South African Constitution is promoting community involvement with the Cape Town budget, but many citizens have found it to complex to understand. However, a new website is using modern data journalism to make the budget more understanding and interesting.
Despite the Constitution of South Africa promoting community involvement in local government, community organisations have found the City of Cape Town’s budgets too complex and convoluted to understand, and the process of the community engaging with the City on the budget has been met with hostility.
But now a new website from social activist organisations Ndifuna Nkwazi, the Social Justice Coalition and International Budget Partnership, which uses modern data journalism techniques, is helping make the Cape Town budget both accessible and interesting.
As part of its project to get communities involved in the budget, the new website, http://capetownbudgetproject.org.za/, leads users through the budget, bringing clarity to an otherwise murky subject.
“Every year the mayor calls for residents to participate in the budget process by making submissions on Cape Town’s draft budget. Last year fewer than forty people wrote submissions and only 23 were from the public. This has been the trend for the last couple of years,” says Axolile Notywala, a member of the Social Justice Coalition. “It is a R37.5 billion budget that affects all of our lives. The amount of money that gets allocated to Khayelitsha makes the difference between five or ten families having to share a toilet. It determines whether we feel safe at night with streetlights that work.”
Ndifuna Nkwazi’s research found that 15.4% of the City’s R37.5 billion budget is spent on building infrastructure. Of this capital expenditure budget, R1.3 billion is earmarked for water and sanitation, which the group has identified as a priority issue for the City.
“According to government data, one in 12 households in Cape Town have no access to sanitation on-site,” says Shaun Russell, ICT researcher, Ndifuna Nkwazi, “and there are still over 48 000 households that use bucket toilets in the city.”
Using the website, residents can drill right down to their specific wards, allowing them to see exactly what projects the City has planned for their neighbourhoods during a particular financial year. It also gives pertinent information, such as the ward councillor, and demographics based on the South African census, using Wazimap (http://wazimap.co.za).
“In its current state, we just wanted to get a geographic idea of where money was being spent on capital projects. We focused on capital instead of operational spending because it shows long term investment and not short term stop gap measures — which is how they generally spend money on informal settlements,” says Russell.
The website forms part of a campaign that saw Khayelitsha residents deliver over 500 submissions to the City. (http://www.groundup.org.za/article/what-your-business-council-my-experience-trying-participate-city-cape-towns-budget_2939)
The concept of the website was born during data literacy workshops facilitated by the School of Data (http://schoolofdata.org/) and civic coding organisation Code for South Africa (http://code4sa.org) in September 2014.
Hannah Williams, the School of Data Fellow who designed the website, says: “This project demonstrates how design and technology can be used to make complex issues clearer to the public. Budgets are released as unwieldy documents that few people have the time or technical knowledge to read and understand, even though it’s something that affects everyone directly. You can’t have active citizens if people don’t have access to information.”
The workshops, held in Cape Town and Johannesburg and sponsored by the Indigo Trust, trained newsrooms and civic society organisations in the latest tools and methodologies used by the open data movement.
“We’ve seen data become key for civic society organisations,” says Russell. “Open data fosters a transparent and accountable government, but you still need the tools and knowledge to be able to interrogate that data, and to push government to provide it.”
“Section 152 of the Constitution explains an aim of local government is to encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the matters of local government,” says the Social Justice Coalition’s Notywala. “Citizen participation is at the heart of democracy. I hope that Mayor Patricia de Lille will take into consideration all the submissions from Khayelitsha residents.”
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Cross-channel chat launched
Clickatell has launched a cross-channel live chat service, Touch Go, that transforms omni-channel customer care.
It enables live chat across a company’s website as well as social platforms (Twitter and Facebook) and mobile apps, bringing customer care and engagement into a single business platform.
“Today’s consumers expect to engage with your brand on the digital channel of their choosing,” says Deon van Heerden, Clickatell Engage CEO and Group CFO. “They want to message your business and instantly have queries resolved, find the information and services they are looking for, without the need for a voice call. Clickatell’s Touch Go makes that happen with the right level of capabilities for businesses of all sizes.”
Businesses can start using Touch Go immediately, with a free Starter option. Touch Go requires no credit card for sign-up and is fully featured with a simple setup process. It offers customisable branding, a unified chat desk business application as well as reports and analytics.
As the business scales up its digital customer care, it can opt-in for the Touch Enterprise offering. Touch Enterprise is designed for scaling up customer care efforts through advanced capabilities including AI driven virtual agents, sentiment analysis, automated workflows, enterprise integrations and in-channel mini-applications.
“Customer care has become a defining factor for sustained business success ” says Nirmal Nair, Clickatell Engage EVP Product & Marketing. “In an ever-increasing mobile native world, customers often choose to interact digitally, but they also expect to be able to reach a human immediately, should they need. Monitoring multiple channels and providing immediate action becomes challenging with siloed deployments. Touch’s unified solution allows businesses of all sizes to provide the customer delight in a simple modular approach.”
SA gamers for eWorld Cup
VS Gaming has crowned the winners of the Xbox One and Playstation 4 EA Sports FIFA tournament that saw 1 024 players compete for the right to contest the FIFA eWorld Cup playoffs later this year.
After two grand finals this weekend, Shiaan Rubeer and 16 year old Thabo Moloi were victorious on Xbox One and Playstation 4 respectively. Each player won R400 000 as the first prize on each platform.
“This was an historic moment for efootball in South Africa,” said Wanda Mkhize, spokesperson for VS Gaming. “Through this tournament South African players have now been given the international spotlight that they deserve. This is what it means for VS Gaming – to open new doors of possibility for our players and thereby grow our communities.”
VS Gaming was given the rights to host a FIFA eWorld Cup Qualifier in March after signing an agreement with EA Sports.
“We are proud of what we have been able to achieve this weekend,” said Mkhize. “Over a thousand players competed to take on the worlds best and two of our South Africans will be able to compete on the world stage as a result. We are excited to see what the future holds for this sector.”
The top four players across each platform were:
First place: Shiaan Rugbeer
Second place: Irshaad Mahomed
Third place: Abu Akhalwaya
Fourth place: Khalid Fakie
First place: Thabo Mike Moloi
Second place: Zuhair Ebrahim
Third place: Ziyadh Caasim
Fourth place: Mohammed Fiaz Mahomed
About the VS Gaming Cup
- 1,024 players took part in the tournament
- There were 512 players on Xbox One
- There were 512 players on Playstation 4
- The total prize pool for this year is over R1,5 million with the winner on each platform receiving R400, 000. The breakdown is as follows:
|XBOX WINNERS||PS4 WINNERS||PRIZE POOL||TOTAL|
|1st Place||1st Place||R400 000||R800 000|
|2nd Place||2nd Place||R150 000||R300 000|
|3rd Place||3rd Place||R75 000||R150 000|
|4st Place||4st Place||R30 000||R60 000|
|5th–8th Place||5th–8th Place||R15 000||R120 000|
|9th–16th Place||9th–16th Place||R5 000||R80 000|
|R755 000||R1 510 000|