GCIS & MDDA 2022/23 Annual Performance Plans; with Deputy Minister

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Communications and Digital Technologies

19 April 2022
Chairperson: Mr B Maneli (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


MDDA 2022/23 Annual Performance Plan

GCIS 2022/23 Annual Performance Plan

The Portfolio Committee met to consider the annual performance plans of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), and to adopt its programme for the second term.

The Chairperson started off the meeting by referring to the national state of disaster following the flooding in KwaZulu-Natal and expressed the Committee's sympathy for the victims. The entities responsible for media needed to do what was possible to ensure that South Africans would remain informed, especially recognising the efforts of ordinary citizens on the ground. They were displaying the need for solidarity. He criticised the fake news that was distracting the country from the work of helping people. This included the accusations of corruption directed at the government.

The Deputy Minister in the Presidency confirmed that the MDDA board had suspended the entity's chief executive officer, and was following the relevant legal processes. The Committee would be informed of the outcome when the ministry received updates on the matter. It had currently been submitted to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

The GCIS presented their APP and budget. They shared their targets, as well as the indicators they would use to measure these targets. These included maintaining a vacancy rate below 10% and ensuring that governance reports were available and presented to the audit committee. Their capital budgets had yet to be approved by National Treasury but would be used to improve the bandwidth and communications infrastructure to ensure that information was being delivered to South Africans in a way that was aligned to how they chose to consume it. Given the lack of budgetary approval and budget cuts received, it was becoming a challenge for them to meet their targets without the necessary funding to do so. These targets included media briefings with government departments, reports after Cabinet meetings, and engagements between government officials and senior journalists.

The MDDA presented their situation analysis, which looked at how they were being affected by social, political, ethical, technological and environmental factors. They then presented their SOAR (strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results) analysis to identify their achievements and the results of mechanisms and programmes put in place.

The budget summary outlined its spending, as well as how the allocated funds were being used. Given that their main source of funding was Multichoice, their funding was limited due to Multichoice facing tough competition from on-demand streaming services.

During discussion, the Committee wanted to know how the GCIS was planning on ensuring that people in rural areas were going to receive information, as the budget cuts would result in them having fewer face-to-face meetings with communities to convey information.

They noted the work done by both entities and reminded the MDDA that they still expected a governance report from them, as they had not submitted one.

The Committee then discussed the proposed second term programme and suggested changes that needed to be made before adopting it.

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the virtual meeting by welcoming the Members, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT), the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and Ms Thembi Siweya, Deputy Minister in the Presidency. He noted that there was load shedding, which would prevent some Members from participating in the meeting.

He brought to light the challenge South Africa was facing, with the President declaring a national state of disaster the previous evening following the floods in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). He urged citizens to keep those affected in their prayers, as well as to contribute in any way they could. The entities responsible for media needed to do what was possible to ensure that South Africans would remain informed, especially recognising the efforts of ordinary citizens on the ground. They were displaying the need for solidarity. He criticised the fake news that was distracting the country from the work of helping people. This included the accusations of corruption directed at government.

News had also been received about the passing of Mr Thabo Masebe, who was a well-known member of the South African government communications fraternity. Condolences were conveyed to his family and friends, and all those affected by his passing.

The Chairperson then allowed for apologies to be shared. An apology had been received from the Minister in the Presidency, Mr Mondli Gungubele, who could not be present as he was attending a United Nations ceremony on sustainable development. He had delegated the Deputy Minister to attend this meeting. 

The Chairperson said the Committee would consider the adoption of its programme and would receive presentations by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) on their annual performance plan (APP) and budget, as well as a report from the MDDA on outstanding matters relating to the previous meeting.

A report on the GCIS presentation, as well as a report on the MDDA’s APP, had been received, but no report on outstanding matters had been circulated to Members, so he asked them to consider only matters in the APP report that had been received. The report on the outstanding matters would be approached through an application being made for the MDDA to come before the Committee. This would guide what the Committee would need to respond to. The content advisor would then view the report submitted and advise on the specific questions asked by the Committee, to indicate matters they needed feedback on. That report would then be circulated to Members before the meeting, which would allow them to do research and make informed contributions. This would form part of the oversight work that needed to be done.

This would be done for the GCIS as well, not just the MDDA. Entities that reported to the GCIS would have the same process followed as part of oversight. The entity's oversight would share the reports from these entities, as well as action plans that had been agreed on and implemented. That would help the Committee to make informed decisions. The reports required would emanate from their quarterly reports.

The matter relating to the MDDA’s chief executive officer (CEO) had been referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The Committee’s role was to be neither a union nor an employer, so they could not discuss contract-related matters. They needed to consider these cases where they affected governance and service delivery. The Committee was concerned about the stability of these entities, so that would be the extent of its involvement. For this meeting, they would consider only the reports that had been submitted to them.

He handed over to Ms Siweya to introduce the GCIS and MDDA, who would present their APPs. She would also share any other matters of public interest with the Committee.

Deputy Minister’s remarks

Deputy Minister Siweya greeted participants in the meeting, and in response to the Chairperson’s request, referred to media reports that the MDDA board had suspended the CEO. The board would update them on the process to be embarked on, as the CEO was accountable to the board. The Committee would be updated once a report was received from the board about the legal processes that were being followed.
Regarding the KZN situation, the GCIS had been involved with the provincial structure when it started, together with its Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA) and the government departments. Subsequently, the President had declared a national state of disaster. The GCIS had been part of the response team formed after that announcement. They would work with the provincial and national government to hold media briefings and ensure that news was being shared on social media and various other platforms. Their aim was to ensure that South Africans would be informed about the coordination and progress being made.

When there were disasters, appeals were made to the communities to make contributions so that better outcomes could be achieved. From a communication standpoint, there was room for them to improve and respond to the crisis in a better manner. The situation had affected them in an unplanned and uncoordinated way, and they were doing what they could through their communications to improve the situation.

GCIS Annual Performance Plan and Budget 2022/23

Ms Phumla Williams, Director-General (DG): GCIS, paid tribute to the late Mr Masebe, who had once been a regular member of the GCIS delegation to this Portfolio Committee. GCIS extended their condolences to his family.

The GCIS's mandate was drawn from the Constitution. Their aim was to close the information deficit in society by providing information to citizens. Their other mandate was to convey communication and ensure that messages from government were coherent. This coordination was achieved through the national communication policy, the communication handbook, the communication framework and a wide range of forums that assisted communicators to remain consistent to the ethos of government communication and the ethos of the public service.

They used to have a presence at only a provincial level but had managed to improve this to a district level. They had also had a successful content communication programme around Covid over the past two years. This was being scaled down due to funding not being renewed. 

The GCIS had successful governance framework activities around accountability, with the resources allocated to them by Parliament. They had not been spared from budget cuts but had tried to make the most of funds available to them to close the information gap within society. They had continued to be aligned with how society consumed information, including making use of social media.

Targets and budget

Ms Gcobisa Soci, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), presented the GCIS's APP targets and budget. For 2022/23, two of their targets were to maintain a vacancy rate of below 10% and to ensure that governance reports were made available and presented to the audit committee.

They had removed their target of a clean audit from the APP as they had achieved clean audits for the past seven years. It had been retained at the audit of predetermined objectives level to ensure that they could still monitor their progress and prevent regressing.

Given the serious budget cuts over the period, their allocation was estimated at around R2.1 billion. They had not only lost financial support from Treasury but had also lost 42 posts to ensure that they would still be within the allocated budget for the period. The goods and services budget had also declined, which meant that they would have to use other means to bridge the gap on APP targets.

The capital budget had declined, as they were allocated R2.1 million in the budget. They had planned to digitise some of their services and had submitted a budget request of around R39.9 million to Treasury. This was to improve their information technology (IT) structure and increase their bandwidth. This budget had not been approved yet, and they were not able to use this to align with communication methods being used by citizens.

Content processing and dissemination

Ms Regomoditswe Mavimbela, DDG: Content Processing and Dissemination, GCIS, said the purpose of the programme was to provide strategic leadership in government communication. This was to ensure coherent, coordinated and consistent quality government communication.

The outcomes of the programmes were:

to ensure that citizens were informed and empowered;
to ensure transformed digital and print media platforms in community media.

The programme had four units:

products and platforms (reduced due to budget cuts mentioned);
radio and graphic design;
communication service agency;
media policy.

Having an adequate budget was essential to ensuring that media messages reached the right audience. The budgetary cuts were making this target difficult to achieve.

Targets and output indicators

Ms Moepeng Tshwane, Director: Provincial and Local Liaison, GCIS, said the targets for 2022/23 were:

24 engagements between government officials and senior journalists on government’s key programmes;
17 post-Cabinet media briefings issued after ordinary Cabinet meetings per year;
100% of media briefings supported by requests received from government departments.

The output indicators were:

The number of engagements between government officials and senior journalists on key government programmes;
The number of post-Cabinet briefings and/or statements issued after ordinary Cabinet meetings
The percentage of media briefings supported by requests received from government departments during the year.

GCIS's concluding comments

Ms Williams commented on the progress made with its projects over the past five years. The 2022/23 financial year was the third year of the five-year plan.

Information dissemination remained a challenge. The budget was continuously being reduced, which had a negative impact on achieving the targets set in 1994 to close the information gap faced by the country's poor communities.

They had used the following as indications that they were on track to achieving the five-year plan:

Audited figures for 2020/2021 - 83%.
Preliminary 2021/22 figures - 92%.

A mid-term review of the plan would be finalised in October and shared with the Portfolio Committee.

MDDA's Annual Performance Plan and Budget 2022/23

Mr Hlengani Mathebula, Chairperson of the MDDA, extended condolences to the Masebe family. He welcomed the Chairperson’s opening comment about the board taking the Committee into its confidence regarding the appointment of board members. He thanked the Portfolio Committee for helping to appoint some of the members to fill the vacancies.
The MDDA pledged to do their part in dealing with the national state of disaster for KZN projects affected by the disaster. The board would consider its impact on their projects at their upcoming meeting.

Situation analysis

Mr Mzuvukile Kashe, Acting CEO, MDDA, presented the entity's situation analysis, which considered the following elements: social, technological, economic, environment, political, legal and ethical. He also presented an analysis, which outlined the MDDA’s strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results (SOAR).

He said that in the APP, they had no margin of error for budgeted items, as the amounts budgeted were the same as those used. They had also reduced the number of funding requests submitted.

They made use of conservative targets, as the success of their programmes was dependent on levies received. Their major funder, Multichoice, was facing tough competition so the funding available was limited.

Budget summary

Mr Yaseen Asmal, CFO, MDDA, said they had taken a conservative approach for money to be received, as they were a funded organisation. Prior year revenue figures impacted how much money they had available to spend each year. The interest rate had declined over the last few years but had increased over the last few months, so this would have an impact on the money they would generate.

When budgeting for broadcasts for the following years, they did not use past actions as a determinant, as things changed. An example was the Covid pandemic which had resulted in decreased revenue. They had taken a more conservative approach to factor this in. Regarding funding from the fiscus, they had less money available to fund print projects.

Ms N Kubheka (ANC) noted the GCIS's budget constraints, which would create a service delivery challenge. The Committee would need to consider this point that had been raised. She commented that achievement of the APP target would require them to be given support. She could see that they were trying their best. The Committee would keep monitoring the achievement of their targets. 

She appreciated the work done by the MDDA and the appointments they were assisted with, to allow them to continue their work. Their APP and budget showed that they were trying. The Committee had been expecting a report on governance, and they were still waiting for it. She asked for them to prepare that report so the Committee could deal with that too.

She was aware that grants were a challenge. She thanked the Deputy Minister for driving these entities and departments to do the work they were doing. She requested that in future, they present a report on governance as well. 

The Chairperson agreed on the point about the governance report. He referred to the GCIS budget and said the Committee would need to take that up, as they were struggling to meet their targets. Their targets relating to information communication technology (ICT) would create problems for a government looking to move towards a more digital environment.
The DDG had made an important point about some areas not having the infrastructure for digital communication to take place. Face to face communication was being affected by the budget. What was the plan to keep those communities informed?

Regarding the council being formed, an alignment question could be raised. There was a structure already, but the plans still mentioned getting a code which would be the basis for their intervention in the marketing and advertising space. Where was the alignment there?

Governance matters for MDDA were yet to be dealt with. In the targets, they had achieved the payment of invoices within 30 days in previous years, so he questioned the target for the current year, as it seemed as if they were planning on regressing. The Committee needed to hold them accountable for targets set, so these targets had to be correct.

On the allocation of grants or the support of applications, there was a bit of a disjuncture. They were still referring to the model and planning as though they would be looking at the old one for the entire term. Was this because the application was still not finalised? The Committee needed to be sure that this was being done sustainably. The model needed to allow space for them to ask for funding from the government to ensure expansion.


Deputy Minister Siweya suggested that it would be better if the MDDA were given a timeframe for the governance report so they would know their deadline. She noted the other inputs made by the Committee and hoped that they would be able to give an update at the next meeting on the actions taken by the board. The update on the governance report would hopefully include an update on the media issues raised. She asked for guidance on this. 

Ms Williams addressed the issue of budget cuts. They had no alternative to the cuts made. They had ensured that every district was furnished with content when the budget cuts were made. This included information on gender-based violence (GBV), as this was often overlooked at a community level. Dialogues were effective, but they had had to stop them.

They had initially combined the communicator role when the budget cuts started, but this had increased travelling costs, as that person had to travel to more locations. The recent budget cuts meant that continuing this would have depleted their budget.

Regarding the IT infrastructure, the studio in Parliament no longer worked because of technological issues. It used to service the parliamentary media, but this no longer happened because of collapsing infrastructure. They were losing the ground they had made, and this was depriving South Africans of their right to information. They could not make any progress until the infrastructure was updated. 

Ms Mavimbela responded on the sector code matter. The sector code was there, but it needed to be reviewed. It was the appointed council’s duty to do so. They were meant to take the code on a public consultation process. They would be doing that so the code could be updated and published in the government gazette for comments and approval. That was their target for this year. 

Mr Kashe confirmed that the apparent regression in the payment of invoices was the result of a typographical error. Regarding the model, they planned to have it completed by the end of the current financial year, and would roll it out to stimulate the sector. Their targets would remain as they were until the model was rolled out. 

The Chairperson noted the responses and corrections so that targets could be used to measure performance. As a summary of the discussion, he noted the impact of the budget cuts on targets. They would take this up, as people needed to be kept informed.

He also noted the loss of the important communication infrastructure that required updating for them to continue providing information to South Africans. These were matters that would be taken up.

The Department would need to consider how the district development model could be used to reach more communities with the resources they had in the intervening period. This did not rule out the importance of still taking up the matter, as the government had a responsibility to keep in touch with communities.
He reminded Members that he had mentioned that the content advisor would interact with the MDDA to guide them on how to prepare the governance report. From that discussion, the Committee would be informed of their readiness to present in the timelines to be given by the House chairperson. This would be outside of their approved programme, so the House chairperson would need to approve it.

Adoption of Committee programme

The Chairperson requested that Mr Thembinkosi Ngoma, the Committee Secretary, share the programme for Members to see it so they could make comments or contributions before its submission. The programme would be subject to review, should the need arise.

Ms T Bodlani (DA) asked about the silence around oversight visits in the programme. They had already had previous visits cancelled, so this was concerning.

The Chairperson noted this and asked for a response from the content advisor and support staff. This was an important point as the Committee should have more oversight to gain insight. 

Mr Ngoma responded as the content advisor was experiencing connection issues. The oversight period was unfortunately set for only that current week. The Committee had meetings that clashed with the visits, so that was why there were no oversight visits on the programme.
Sometimes the parliamentary programme changed, which changed the Committee activities. Sometimes the programme itself did not allow for visits. The Committee had oversight over two departments, so it was difficult for it to take on visits too. 

The Chairperson noted Ms Bodlani’s comment. He requested that they consider including oversight visits when a space opened up, as their importance had already been discussed. 

Ms Kubheka moved for the programme's adoption. Ms Bodlani seconded. There were no objections. 

The meeting was adjourned. 

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