Brand South Africa Quarter 1 performance: with Minister; Films and Publications Amendment Bill; Communications BRRR

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Communications and Digital Technologies

14 November 2017
Chairperson: Mr H Maxegwana
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Meeting Summary

2017 Budget Review & Recommendations Reports – BRRR

Brand South Africa briefed the Committee on its 2017/18 Quarter 1 performance. The overall achievement was high, as 92% of targets were reached. Brand SA spoke about international and domestic projects undertaken to improve the country’s brand, but emphasised that every South African has a role to play. Tourism and the economy was identified as being key to South Africa’s “brand”. The importance of research on South Africa’s brand and how other countries promoted their own brand was emphasised. Foreign stakeholders hold negative perceptions of safety in South Africa until they visit and see that there are safe areas in the country. Global South Africans (GSA) is an important project being done abroad, because South Africans living abroad are one of the most important constituencies because of their ability to promote and profile the country positively.

The Committee asked for examples on what was being done internationally and domestically to reverse negative stereotypes of South Africa.
A major challenge identified by Brand South Africa was that national indexes formulated by organisations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Economic Forum, placed South Africa in the same category as politically unstable countries due to a rise in protests in South Africa in 2016. This has tarnished South Africa’s brand. A project probed whether South Africans living in Australia think of themselves according to their racial or ethnic identity or whether they rather identify with their South African nationality. In order to reverse negative perceptions, it would take about five years. The way that China has managed its country’s brand successfully was highlighted.

“Play Your Part” was a programme placed on the SABC2 TV channel, identifying influential community leaders and asking them to become brand ambassadors of their community and as influential South Africans. Since, “Play Your Part” has had a ripple effect and has encouraged more South Africans to inquire on how they too could be ambassadors of the country.

Parliamentary Legal Services briefed the Committee on proposed amendments submitted by two Committee members and the Portfolio Committee of Justice on the Film and Publication Amendment Bill. Some of the proposals requested a definition for “commercial purposes” and changes to the “hate speech” definition. The legal team did not agree with the proposed changes.

A request was made to Parliamentary Legal Services to remove broad definitions, specifically the definition of classifying film or game as ‘‘XX’’ as it should not only include violence, but also other humanly degrading activities such as urinating on human beings. The legal team did not see the need to change the wording in Section 18 dealing with classifying film or game as ‘‘XX’’  as they did not want to limit the right to freedom of expression.

Meeting report

Briefing by Brand South Africa on its 2017/18 1st Quarter report
Minister of Communications, Mmamoloko Kubayi, noted that the overall achieved targets of Brand South Africa (BSA) amounted to 92% for Quarter 1. The issue of Brand SA domestic work has been resolved. The 2% target for it employing people with disabilities was not achieved as there were no vacancies available to employ disabled persons. By the end of the 2017/18financial year, more efforts would be made to ensure that disabled persons are employed.

Tourism and the economy was identified as being key to South Africa’s “brand”. Every single South African has a role to play as an ambassador. When South Africans say negative things about their country, South Africa is “written off”. People’s thoughts of South Africa not being a stable country result in deterring investment into South Africa and negatively impacts on the tourism industry. Foreign stakeholders may hold certain positions on South Africa, but when they come to South Africa they are surprised to see that there are safe areas in South Africa. The country’s brand socially and economically impacts the country’s revenue collection and South Africa needs investment in businesses in the country.

Mr Makhubela Kingsley, BSA CEO, reemphasised the overall targets achieved as 92% in Quarter 1. This achieved target was discussed during meetings as an overachievement by BSA.

Dr Jonty Tshipa, BSA Director of Corporate Services, presented the Quarter 1 report. In his performance overview, Mr Tshipa said that Q1 was a demanding quarter and therefore 92% was an outstanding achievement. He highlighted where the targets were not met.

BSA has a stable workforce as staff turnover has been drastically reduced. Skills orientation was hosted to ensure that there is a skilled workforce. One target that was not met was the appointment of an Indian representative, because no Indians applied.

BSA engages with other countries to see best practices adopted for brand management. BSA engaged with stakeholders in the United States of America, United Kingdom, and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The 5% variance on the “budget versus expenditure” was positively reflected on by internal auditors.

Ms V van Dyk (DA) referred to one of the 2017/18 targets was two research reports produced. She asked what the content the research reports would be on.

She asked how BSA prepared to conduct 14 internal analysis reports and surveys in rural areas.

Slide 12 mentioned that BSA wants to expand the brand of South Africa abroad. She asked how much of the budget is spent on local projects and how much on projects abroad. As there are a few events abroad, she asked how many BSA staff attend events abroad and if all the staff attends.

Mr Kingsley replied that a decision was taken some time ago to have offices in Brazil, India, Russia and China. BSA is currently having discussions with “BRICS” [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] for offices to be established in each of the BRICS countries. Various models of country brand management offices used by other countries are being explored to see what would work best for BSA and South Africa. The budgetary “dissection” of what is being spent abroad is not currently available.

Mr Sifiso Nyoni, ‎Director: Governance, Legal & Board Secretariat, could share trends and raw data. He said 60% of the budget was spent on domestic projects and 40% international projects.

Ms van Dyk said that BSA said it has two country managers. To her knowledge, she was last informed that BSA had three country managers. She asked if the reduction was the result of new offices or if anyone had resigned. She asked if the money spent on Administration was just for offices or for salaries as well.

Ms van Dyk asked what the purpose and impact of research reports produced in 2016 about Senegal, Angola and Russia were; did they have an impact on South Africa. Based on feedback, where do these reports impact on South Africa. The Committee should be able to see those reports.

Mr Kingsley replied that the reports had been received, but that the Committee did not request them for the current meeting. The purpose of the research in Angola, Senegal and Russia helps one determine what the stumbling blocks of doing research in South Africa are. All the research is distributed to businesses and government departments. He referred to the significance of African National Congress (ANC) representatives who went to the 30th anniversary of the 1987 Dakar Conference, in Senegal in May 2017 where South African representatives were sent “to try to rekindle the spirit during difficult times”. BSA was able to bring together people at the Conference to discuss with South Africans about constructive political dialogue. At the time of the Dakar Conference, the economy was facing challenges. Companies could not repatriate capital and “we” made efforts to try to find out what the situation was at the Conference.

Mr Kingsley said that Global South Africans (GSA) is an important project being done abroad, because “we are our own new enemies”. South Africans living abroad are one of the most important constituencies because of their ability to promote and profile the country positively. GSA is being targeted towards South Africans in Australia. It is important to consider how South Africans view themselves. BSA can determine how South Africans define the country in terms of its strengths and weaknesses. A lot of South Africans in Australia were surprised to see our findings coming out of Australia, showing that Australia is faced with the same problems. Currently more research is being done to test how patriotic South Africans are. Research is also being done to identify how South Africans define themselves and, for example, if identification is based on one’s ethnic identity or if one rather perceives oneself as South African first.  

Mr R Tseli (ANC) asked how much feedback is received from stakeholder engagement. With reference to the occurrences of contestations and protest, he asked how “communities” interact with BSA.

Mr M Kalako (ANC) asked which countries thought it would be difficult under South Africa’s present circumstances to maintain its brand. He asked if BSA sensed a change in the attitudes of the international community, both tourists and investors, towards South Africa.

Minister Kubayi replied that work is being done to influence perceptions in the international community. However, BSA would be in a better space to come back later with relevant information packaged properly on this. China is a good example of how the country’s brand management has positively influenced South Africa’s perception of it. People who interact with China speak of the vision of the country. Referring to China’s 1978 “Open and Reform” policies, China’s image in the international community improved. Basically, “everyone speaks well of China”. We have to look at efforts made by other country’s to improve their brand management. Many South Africans have been addressed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to encourage South Africans living abroad to keep on being brand ambassadors.

Ms Sithembile Ntombela, BSA General Manager: Marketing, gave an example of a BSA domestic project, referred to as a “movement,” called Play Your Part which positively affects people’s lives. In rural communities in South Africa, BSA identifies active community members whose initiatives align to national priorities. The project has since grown to have not only ambassadors in Play Your Part, but to have all South Africans as ambassadors and each South African can play their part. This year Play Your Part is on SABC2 and reaches at least a 5 million audience. A ripple effect has occurred once people have seen Play Your Part on television as viewers have approached BSA to ask how they can also become ambassadors or get involved.

Mr Kingsley said that the brand of the nation has been tarnished. One example of how the international community’s perceptions are influenced is through national indexes produced and released by World Economic Forum (WEF), World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These indexes produce very “negative” information on South Africa. BSA recently received the findings of one national index by WEF, but it cannot be shared in the current meeting as it needs to be released by WEF first. He said that “they formulate serious opinions,” based on perceptions of political instability in South Africa. With the increase in protests in 2016, very negative perceptions of South Africa are formulated abroad about the political stability of South Africa. Some indexes categorise South Africa as politically unstable, placing South Africa in the same category as countries undergoing civil conflict. Research on South Africa’s brand is also important to undertake in other countries in order to reverse the negative perceptions. In 2016 there was a spike in local demonstrations and global studies by international organisations such as the World Bank specified the increase in demonstrations. Where protests resort to violence, the “nation brand” of South Africa is tarnished. BSA research has to consider this terminology as serious opinions are formed based on the perception of South Africa as politically unstable. BSA is trying to show that they had a stable transfer of power to a democracy and a robust democracy. It would take around five years to reverse negative perceptions. South Africa is not politically unstable as there are functioning institutions.

The Chairperson said that the Committee is trying to play its part in ensuring the country is known. “We” have to ensure that the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) is dealing with brand information circulated to local consumers. Members of Parliament want to play their part in their constituencies. Not everyone wants to watch television domestically. It will be necessary that MPs know how to ensure that the BSA work is being implemented. One issue South Africa faces is that citizens identify with their race, but when going abroad it is questionable if those South Africans identify with their race or nationality first.
Minister Kubayi replied that a lot of the GCIS work can be integrated into the BSA work. The Minister and BSA are looking towards examples in other countries to see what can be done in constituencies. Every week there is a post-Cabinet briefing and now a newsletter is distributed, which is the work BSA does with GCIS.

Formal deliberations on the Films and Publications Amendment Bill
Comments from Ms Dudley of the ACDP and from Ms Van Damme of the DA had been submitted to the Parliamentary Legal Advisor and Chairperson. Ms Phumelele Ngema, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, said she would deal with the two inputs simultaneously from a legal point of view. The Democratic Alliance (DA) submitted concerns about definitions in the Films and Publications Amendment Bill 1. The DA submitted that “commercial purposes” needs clarity. However, the DA did not propose a better definition. In the definitions “distribute” and “distributor” and the link to "for sale or hire" purposes, the context of the Bill makes it clear in which context there will be "for sale or hire" purposes and it is clear what “distribution” is. It is clear that some reward or commercialisation will be gotten out of distribution. Parliamentary Legal Services is satisfied with the definitions as they stand in the Bill.

Ms Ngema said that the Portfolio Committee on Justice suggested that “harmful” be deleted. It is necessary to elaborate what harmful means as it relates to “physical harm, emotional harm, psychological harm”. The definition runs together with the definition of hate speech. There was an issue with the addition of the definition of “hate speech”. She referred to the question of where the definition of “hate speech” comes from and said that it comes from the Constitution and that is why “our” definition says that if you do something that is prohibited that falls within the ambits. She also suggested the concern of not including “hate speech”. The content of the Bill itself does provide a guiding definition of what hate speech is and if considered in court, the Bill will allow for the law to be used against such crimes. She said the legal team had considered all proposals for amendments, in addition to those from the Portfolio Committee of Justice.

Ms Ngema said she wanted to jump to the new proposed clause that would part of the B version of the Bill dealing with the provision for the Penalty Committee. The “Penalty Committee” would no longer be referred to as such, but would be the “Enforcement Committee”. In addition, instead of the “Enforcement Committee” consisting of four members, it would consist of five members. The additional member would have to have an information technology qualification.

Ms Ngema said that in Section 16 read alongside Section 18 in the Principal Act, it already covers the concerns raised. There is clarity on what is regarded as legal or illegal. People have the right to do what they want in the private sphere, unless it impacts on children or members of the public. There is no need to make changes in an explicit and comprehensive manner. The final product is based on all her deliberations with the Department and the law state adviser.

The Print Media judgement, as it related to section 16, asked for words to be removed due to their vagueness. Thus, when dealing with sexual conduct, it will be accompanied by "explicit violence", to remove vague terms.

Ms van Dyk said there are no specific time periods the Chairperson, penalty committee and the appeal tribunal. There is timeframe to all Committees, because it prevents the abuse of power.

The Chairperson said that he is not opening up for new submissions as Ms van Dyk’s query was not submitted to the Chairperson or Parliamentary Legal Advisor.

Ms Dudley referred to sub-section 16(4)(b) and 18(3)(b) of the Films and Publications Act, 1996, she said that over broad words should be removed. She was referring to her proposal on the definition of “XX” classification which stipulated what disallowed content is that may not be distributed. The original intention of the legislature to remove broad words has not been considered. Her proposal refers to broad words and that these should be narrowed down so the full intentions are stated. The definition needs to not only consider "violence” but also spitting, urinating, and defecating on human beings to avoid the degrading of human beings. To avoid overt broadness of definitions, they should become “horribly explicit” to speak to the intention so as to comply with the judgement.    

Mr Mongameli Kweta, State Law Adviser, replied that section 16 and 18 “speak to classification” which is not broad as it looks at how one goes about classifying when items are brought to them. It is not broad and it aims to not restrict people in their right to freedom of expression.

Communications Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR)
Amendments to the BRRR were considered and the Committee adopted the report.

The Committee discussed their roster of meetings.

The meeting was adjourned.


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