Yowzit is a South African social enterprise that manages rating and review platforms for citizens to share their views on the quality of services provided by public and private entities. Through an innovation grant from Making All Voices Count, it developed ‘Yowzit for Governance’, a website with information on 41,102 public entities that members of the public could review.
To understand the factors that drive interaction with such platforms, Yowzit conducted research about the users of this e-governance platform, with the aim of better understanding their experiences of offline engagement with public entities, their expectations of public entities, and their expectations of this platform. The research also aimed to encourage public entities to act on citizen feedback, and to increase the overall usage of these platforms.
The research revealed that citizens had a clear desire to share information, and a high interest in Yowzit because of its low transaction costs and their desire to express opinions. While they had little faith in municipal institutions, they had high expectations of an e-governance platform to prompt a response from such institutions.
Nonetheless, this paper makes clear that online action will not translate into offline action without the necessary structures in place - structures like a robust accountability framework in which government employees have the ability, capacity and interest to resolve citizen complaints.