SAP system maintenance in Jhb must not leave residents with administrative crises

Issued by Cllr Julie Suddaby – DA Johannesburg Shadow MMC for Finance
14 Mar 2023 in Press Statements

The DA in Johannesburg shares the frustration of residents of the City following the apparent extensive loss of functionality of the City’s SAP system – a severe blow to service delivery.

The SAP system of the City of Johannesburg provides the primary means for residents of the City to have account and payment queries logged. However, since the 3rd of March 2023, many residents of Johannesburg have been unable to receive effective service from the SAP system due to alleged software maintenance.

Several issues of great concern have now arisen, with residents of the City being left desperate to fulfil administrative duties related to their accounts, yet unable to do so due to the SAP system’s inability to function at full capacity.

Firstly, it must be noted that software maintenance that incapacitates a system to this great an extent is highly unusual. It is irregular to have maintenance done that collapses so much functionality of a system for such a sustained period.

However, if the lapses in functionality of the City’s SAP system are in fact due to such software maintenance, however irregular it might be, it is, secondly, shocking and likely verging on illegal to have a loss of system capacity at this time when the City expects residents to log and file various administrative matters relating to service accounts.

Thirdly, it has become evident that the crippled capacity of the SAP system has now started giving convenient administrative cover to various Johannesburg City officials to not process or log queries and not cite reference numbers.

A notification appeared on the 3rd of March 2023 indicating that the SAP system might, for a period, lose some functionality related to specific system components. However, officials whose departments and units use the City’s SAP system have over the past few days informed some residents that since the notification of the 3rd of March, all services are affected all the time and no services are available to the residents at all.

This forces the conclusion that either officials are using the SAP system’s maintenance as an excuse to not service our residents, or the system’s failures are far more extensive than the notification of the 3rd of March communicated. Both of these conclusions are concerning and require investigation.

The cause of the partial paralysis of the SAP system of the City of Johannesburg might be varied and complex, but the bottom line is that residents are being left in the dark and unable to complete vital administrative processes required by the City. This cannot go on.

The DA in Johannesburg therefore calls on the City’s Revenue Department to urgently make available alternative system resources and capacity to capture account disputes and provide reference numbers to all processes disrupted by the lapses in functionality of the SAP system and the consequent broader loss of administrative functions in the City.

Furthermore, the DA in Johannesburg calls for:

  • the suspension of credit control management processes reliant on the SAP system until such time as the software is available and any backlog in capturing transactions while the system was offline are caught up;
  • the suspension of all disconnections until such time as credit control management has caught up with transactions captured through the above called-for alternative means; and
  • the City to allow the manual lodging and processing of property valuation objections to be received at the walk-in centres and the provision of reference numbers for residents to prove, in case of future doubt, that such property valuation objections that have been received before the looming deadline of 31st of March 2023.

Residents deserve to have local government work for them. The chaos triggered by the loss of the full functioning of Johannesburg’s SAP system cannot be allowed to land on the residents of the City and saddle them with countless avoidable administrative concerns and crises.