Manzini Council The Most Open Organisation in Eswatini
Organisational openness/transparency is a fundamental requirement for the reliability and integrity of public institutions in order to promote public trust and receive public support. It requires that the decisions and actions of public institutions be open to public scrutiny through access to public information. A recent study that was conducted by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) has uncovered that the Municipal Council of Manzini is the most open organization in the Kingdom of Eswatini. The results of the Eswatini Transparency Assessment Survey of 2020 were on Monday presented by MISA Director Vuyisile Hlatshwayo during the commemoration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information held at the Ministry of ICT offices in Mbabane.
MISA is an organization established to promote media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information in the SADC region. Hlatshwayo mentioned that the survey, which was conducted between the 6th July – 5th August 2020, was aimed at examining the level of openness and ability to provide requisite information by government/public organisations. He mentioned that the assessment criteria focused on two areas; A website analysis as well as response to written/oral information requests. The website analysis included an evaluation of the accessibility and presence of credible information on the platform. As a way of testing responsiveness to information requests, a questionnaire was sent to each of the participating organizations and performance was to be measured based on the number of days taken to respond. An open organization was expected to respond to the questionnaire within 14 days.
According to Hlatshwayo, Manzini Municipality’s website was found to be having up-to-date information including the latest developments in the municipality. He also stated that the Municipality had made it easier for its customers and stakeholders to get in touch with it through a highly interactive Facebook platform, a 24/7 Call Centre and email. “The Municipality’s website also provides COVID-19 updates, organizational structure and financial statements all of which is information needed for public consumption”, he added. Hlatshwayo further stated that, without asking much as to the reason for the information request, the Municipality gave a detailed response to the questionnaire within the 14-day timeline. The Municipality received a total score of 34 out of 40 in the Transparency Assessment of 2020; making it the most open organization in Eswatini. The Golden Key Award comes at a time when the Municipality has just completed its first year of implementation of its five-year Integrated Development Plan (IDP).
One of the strategic themes of this policy document is stakeholder management under which there is an objective “To Improve Public Participation, Stakeholder Relations and Organizational Imaging by 2024”. By setting this strategic objective, the Municipality has demonstrated its belief in the notion that access to information is an essential component for enabling informed public participation in the city’s governance and decision making processes. A number of communication platforms exist within the Municipality. These include the website (www.mzcitycouncil.sz), 24/7 Call Centre (800 2004/2505 7000), weekly newspaper advertorials (named Manzini News) which are published every Wednesday, Facebook page and group (named Manzini News), email (email@example.com), telephone (2508 5000), mail (P.O.Box 418, Manzini), Bulk SMS information dissemination, face-to-face stakeholder engagement initiatives as well as well as door-to-door information dissemination in the form of notices and leaflets. Traditional media is also extensively utilised for information dissemination. More communication platforms are in the pipeline.
…REGIONAL MANZINI DAY A SUCCESS
The Manzini Regional Administration Office, working together with stakeholders including the Municipal Council of Manzini, last Friday held a successful Regional Manzini Day at the King Somhlolo Park. A large number of small scale entrepreneurs from the various Tinkhundla under the region came together and exhibited their colourful products as a form of marketing the wealth of entrepreneurial talent that exists in the various Tinkhundla Centres under the region. The following photos were taken during the event…