By Megan Whittington
Daphne Timm, a local resident in Grahamstown, is well-known for her active citizenship and keeping the community informed on the happenings of Makana. In the recent past, Timm noticed an increased need for citizen reporting in order to keep the local municipality accountable.
“Last September, I noticed an increase in the number of complaints about Makana Municipality on my Facebook page. It was also a time when Grahamstown was receiving a lot of bad publicity regarding the water crisis and I decided that it was time to get involved,” said Timm.
She began to do some research on how the water system actually works and made a few contacts that could help her to keep other residents informed.
“If only there was communication ahead of time or at least answers to questions on water outages, it would make for a better idea of why we were in the situation we were in as rate payers,” she said.
As a result of her interest in rectifying some of the big issues that Grahamstown faces, she has become a form of communication between the municipality and the residents.
Timm has also been in communication with both Amatola Water and MobiSAM; a collaboration which has proven to be of benefit to Grahamstown residents.
Last week, Timm’s goal was reached, even if in a small way, through the forewarning of planned water outages. People were able to plan ahead, and for once, Timm went through a water outage without a single phone call of complaint. This demonstrates the importance of communication between Makana Municipality and its residents; which Timm believes is inadequate.
“We need to be provided with information about a number of services – communication is key. For example, the public needs answers about why Makana failed to clean up after the strike. In cases where there is an organised strike, measures need to be taken to ensure that the area is cleaned up,” said Timm.
Timm uses Facebook as a way to inform people about what is happening in Grahamstown. The public can report issues to the Facebook page ‘Grahamstown Municipal Services Outage Reporting.’
MobiSAM is co-admin of this page and as such, will also be informed of any issues that may arise. Timm has been working closely with both MobiSAM and Amatola Water in order to generate one productive forum for the public to report on service-related issues that they have encountered.
Residents, according to Timm, need to become active citizens in order for Grahamstown to start seeing the changes it wants.
“When you see a dripping hydrant or your electricity goes off, let MobiSAM know quickly. Public participation is essential for service delivery,” she said.
Daphne Timm: in her own words
How long have you lived in Grahamstown and what brought you to the city?
“I moved here in 1986 to be with my husband.”
What has kept you busy over the past few years?
“I met up with the people in the know so that I could understand the water pumps and why we are having these problems. I also got involved with the right people so that I could communicate problems that the Grahamstown public were having to make situations more bearable.”
What motivated you to get involved in community issues?
“In September 2013 I noticed an increased number of negative posts on my Facebook page about service delivery in Grahamstown. This was also around the same time that Carte Blanche did a story on the water crisis in our town and I decided that I needed to get involved and try to see how the problem could be fixed.”
How do you think others can get involved similarly?
“Reporting what you see is a big part of active citizenship. If, for example, you notice a dripping hydrant, let MobiSAM know. Reporting small problems makes a big difference and will hopefully cause a quicker solution. Public participation is important for successful service delivery to happen.”
How would you describe an active citizen?
“A person who cares about the environment that they live in and gets involved. This can be in big and small ways. From reporting electricity outages to bigger community engagement related projects.”
How would you describe yourself in one word?
Who/what inspires you?
“Doing the right thing.”
What’s your keep-awake issue in respect of public life in Makana?
“The turnaround time for the water outages to be fixed. We also need to be told before our water goes out so that we can prepare.”
Best decision you’ve made relating to this issue?
“Understanding how the water systems work.”
What’s the one thing about you few people know?
“I am a homebody, a member Grahamstown’s Business Forum and an estate agent at Pam Golding.”