Multipurpose community centres as the primary vehicle in service delivery [electronic resource] : trends and challenges.
When the African National Congress took power from the apartheid regime in 1994 it promised to transform the public service by eradicating the inequalities of the past in the provisioning of basic services. The ANC-led government aimed to be a people-centred one, and service delivery became the central focal point. For government to realise its goal of annihilating the inequalities of the past, it became imperative that services be provided in a transparent, coherent and representative manner to all citizens, particularly the previously marginalised communities. in order to promote efficiency, effectiveness, responsiveness and accountability, the government identified various alternative strategies that would enhance service delivery and bring it closer to the people. One of the strategies was to set up Multipurpose Community Centres (MPCCs), also known as Thusong Service Centres (TSCs), that were to serve as the vehicle to enhance service delivery. Although such a move was a noble one and brought hope to many impoverished South Africans, there are still challenges faced by government in the provision of basic services that culminated in recent violent service delivery protests that adversely affected the whole country. The purpose of the research was to determine if the establishment of the MPCCs as a vehicle in enhancing service delivery has made a difference in the lives of previously marginalized communities. This study, therefore, critically examines whether the already established Centres play a pivotal role in enhancing service delivery. The literature review revealed that successful public service transformation has to create a sound relationship between government and its constituencies, and that can be attained by meaningfully engaging the public in matters such as policy formulation, as such engagement will inform government on the kind of programmes to be initiated and implemented that will respond to the social and economic needs of citizens. It is crucial that government must be community owned so that citizens must not only see themselves as recipients of services but also as decision makers. The literature review further argues that government must recognise that its primary responsibility is to drive the delivery of services in an efficient, effective and economic manner. It is therefore crucial that public administrators be committed and accountable toward the community, expand customer choice of services, ensure that citizens get the best possible value for money, and that access to basic services is increased regardless of the locale. On the contrary, the empirical study revealed that the Centres are not effectively addressing the needs of communities. One of the reasons of the failure of these Centres is due to the fact that the establishment of some Centres there was lack of proper consultation with communities and other relevant stakeholders on what services need to be rendered. The study also revealed that some Centres do not have adequate physical and human resources, Centres are managed by managers that are not adequately trained in managerial skills. The study further revealed that lack of funding makes it impossible for these Centres and services rendered sustainable, and lack of communication and coordination of activities between departments utilising the Centres render integrated service delivery ineffective The research concludes by presenting recommendations that were carefully drawn from the analysis of the findings and the entire study, followed by a proposed model that provides a multifaceted approach that outlines an action plan in the delivery of services, and should serve as a guide to Government with regard to the implementation of strategies and policies for the betterment of lives of South African citizens, especially the previously marginalised.