Hansard: Appropriation Bill: Debate on Vote No 6 - Government Communications and Information System
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 16 Jun 2009
No summary available.
WEDNESDAY, 17 JUNE 2009
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – E249
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in Committee Room E249 at 16:16.
House Chairperson Mr K O Bapela, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
START OF DAY
Debate on Vote No 6 – Government Communications and Information System:
HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Order! Hon members, due to the limited time we have for this debate, we will adhere strictly to times allocated.
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY: PERFORMANCE MONITORING AND EVALUATION, AS WELL AS ADMINISTRATION IN THE PRESIDENCY: Chairperson, I hope I will be one of those who will adhere to your request.
Chairperson, hon members, honoured guests, management of the GCIS, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen, it is both an honour and a privilege for me to address this House on the occasion of the tabling of the budget of the Government Communications and Information System.
This Budget debate is taking place against the background of excitement and a positive mood in the country due to the successful general elections that saw millions of South Africans participating in the fourth general elections, and the hosting of both the Fifa Confederations Cup and the British Lions Tour. This positive mood means that we have a wonderful opportunity as a country to unite South Africans at a time when they are feeling positive about their country.
This debate is also taking place just a day after the country celebrated Youth Day. This day, 16 June, is an important day on our calendar as we remember the scores of young people who were killed by the security machinery of the apartheid state. Their crime was simply to protest against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in black schools across the country. On this occasion of the GCIS Budget Vote debate we remember not only those who lost their lives, but also those who decided to go into exile to continue the fight against apartheid as the situation inside the country had become unbearable.
This institution passed the very laws that made life unbearable for the majority of South Africans, particularly black women, youth and workers of all races, and especially African workers. It is therefore appropriate that I have decided to dedicate my speech in this House to all those who lost their lives during the uprising that began in 1976.
At that time, the youth protested about the compulsory use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in schools. This recollection reminds us how important it is for citizens to have access to information in a medium and form that is accessible and that they can understand. A denial of access to information is a denial of a fundamental human right and the power to better one's life and contribute to society.
In its 11 years of existence, the GCIS has gone a long way to create a communication system that serves the people, as enshrined in our Constitution. We have proceeded from the understanding that without information, there can be no popular participation; without popular participation, there can be no lasting legitimacy or transformation of our society. Without the means to access information and to communicate their own activities, ideas and opinions, citizens become hapless observers subject to the world they find themselves in. An uninformed citizenry undermines our objectives to transform society.
Good communication lies at the heart of success in the fast-moving, global world we live in. It lies at the heart of development and delivery. Communication in our context must enable people to be their own liberators, to take control of their lives and to participate in governance. It must foster partnerships leading to a better life for all. In this way communication contributes to the transformation of the country and its people. It contributes to fulfilling the overwhelming government mandate for economic growth, social equality and the fulfilment of human potential.
Such communication is based on the notion of dialogue. We need to communicate our successes in improving the quality of life of our people, we need to ensure that the citizenry understand their rights and responsibilities and know how to access services and opportunities. In turn, we need to listen to the challenges the people face, hear about the blockages to service delivery, and use this to make informed decisions about public policy and delivery. This understanding of communication has made us determined to place communication at the centre of government's work, not as an add-on or afterthought.
The larger issue behind the GCIS Budget Vote debate, after the presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Communications, is to assess our progress in achieving the vision of developmental, transformative communication, and what more we can do – as government and as Parliament. It is also to ask media and communications in all sectors to reflect on how they contribute to our collective agenda to transform the lives of the people. To what extent are we co-operating to ensure that those who are disadvantaged know about the opportunities that democracy has brought, and are then able to take advantage of them?
This Budget Vote debate is also taking place against the background of 15 years of a stable democracy that had started a firm fight against poverty. However, we are cognisant of the prevailing economic crisis that is affecting the world economy. We are equally aware that such conditions may have an impact on our ability to fulfil the mandate given to us by millions of those who still have confidence and deep trust in our policies and programmes.
The core mandate of government communications is to meet the communication and information needs of government and the public, and to provide strategic leadership to all our government communications. Our mandate enjoins us to consistently ensure that the public access information on programmes, policies and opportunities so that they can actively participate in the transformation agenda for a better life for all.
The GCIS provides strategic leadership and co-ordinates the government communication system to fulfil this mandate. The GCIS also ensures that South Africa is marketed abroad through the International Marketing Council, in partnership with other state agencies such as the Department for International Relations and Co-operation, South African Tourism and Trade Investment South Africa. It oversees the Media Development and Diversity Agency, whose mandate is to ensure development of media diversity in the country.
We turn now to the detail of what the GCIS is doing to fulfil its mandate and the mandate of government from our people: The GCIS has concluded the review of the government-wide communication system, which coincides with the GCIS' tenth anniversary.
The review identified a number of achievements in the government communication system. It found that the GCIS had established effective co-ordinating forums to promote coherent and common messages across government; and that our government communication system has features that can catapult our country onto a plateau for strategic, disciplined and coherent communication.
While recommendations from the review require consultation and approval by Cabinet, some have no far-reaching implications and the GCIS has commenced implementation. The review challenged the GCIS to ensure better strategic support to the government-wide communication system, including effective government communication across the three spheres. In the coming period, attention will be given to establishing well-functioning government communication units for all the various departments, with special focus on the newly established departments. In the next weeks, as indicated at the induction of new Ministers, training interventions to strengthen the skills of government communicators will be conducted.
Working with the various Directors-General, the GCIS will ensure that policy guidelines and scorecards to guide government communication are approved and implemented. The GCIS will ensure that communication is implemented along the government's strategic priorities identified in the state of the nation address, informed by the renewed mandate. Among these will be the communication of key programmes to build on the economy and create jobs to address the education challenges and to focus on rural development and sustainable livelihoods.
The socioeconomic profile of the South African population implies that reliance on conventional methods of communication is not adequate to engage many of our people. It is critical to utilise innovative and appropriate ways to reach the information-deprived society. Ensuring information reaches all citizens is one of the key challenges we face.
We emphasised socioeconomic development channels to reach the marginalised and direct dialogue, especially with people in disadvantaged areas. When the GCIS was established 11 years ago the task was to work with the provinces to complete a model for provincial communication structures. Today we have a system that integrates provincial government and, working with the provincial communication units, we will strengthen the local sphere of government that is vital for service delivery, community participation and development.
Through the provincial communications units, a network of communicators, including community workers, ward committees and eminent community members, is central in disseminating communication on programmes of government. To date, 15 new Thusong Service Centres have been established, bringing the total number of operational centres to 137 countrywide by the end of March 2009. These one-stop centres bring government services to the people. Typically they include the Departments of Home Affairs, Labour, Social Development and Health, the GCIS, the SA Social Security Agency, as well as tele-centres, the SA Post Office, libraries, agricultural extension offices, municipal services and community development workers. The programme to create a centre in each district by 2014 will continue in the next financial year. I must hasten to say that we are aware of the challenges in these centres and are working together with key stakeholders to find solutions to these, including long-term appropriate locations for the Thusong centres.
In an effort to enhance unmediated communication, the izimbizo programme remains a unique approach to ensure that our messages reach the public unpolluted. It is one platform, among many, that we will continue to use. Research has shown that direct interaction with communities is seen as the most valuable by citizens. The GCIS will make sure that izimbizo platforms are used creatively as part of the government's participatory democracy platforms to build and strengthen strategic sectoral and general community partnerships.
We know that more often than not communities have solutions to their problems, for they know better the challenges that are rife in their neighbourhoods. During this period, the GCIS will work to ensure that government mobilises forums of academics, opinion-makers, nongovernmental and community-based organisations, to build a shared vision for our country. Our focus on direct engagement with communities where they live will continue to be a priority. In particular, there will be a focus on reaching rural communities in support of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme.
We have also ensured that interactive communication is accompanied by a multimedia approach to communication, using products and platforms that meet the needs and preferences of various sectors of the population. The mass campaign to popularise government's Programme of Action for 2009 is using all official languages, including Braille; it will include a comic book publication with a wide reach, especially amongst the poor, and a series of radio dramas in all official languages.
The government magazine Vuk'uzenzele was established in 2006 to provide government information to those in need. In the last financial year there was a print run of about 1,6 million on a two-monthly basis – but demand far outstrips supply. As a result, the print run has been increased to 1,8 million per issue. The Braille version of Vuk'uzenzele provides information to the visually impaired.
Over and above, Vuk'uzenzele has carried true stories of people who have benefited from programmes targeting the economically marginalised communities, those in the second economy trap, with much focus on an inclusive economy. The GCIS will sustain this platform and channel its content through the public service African language stations to reach more and more people who must take up these opportunities.
We live in an age of extremely rapid changes to communications, enabled in part by developments in information and communication technologies. The GCIS has begun harnessing cellular phones as a platform with tremendous reach across the population. MXit was used to profile the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign. MXit is a free instant messaging programme for cellphones and personal computers. The 16 Days splash screen on MXit was delivered to 2,8 million users during the campaign and some 6 million text messages were broadcast.
Government website usage statistics increased from 17,8 million in 2007-08 to 20,8 million during 2008-09. Usage statistics for the government services website totalled 4,78 million in 2008-09, compared to 4,47 million in 2007-08.
The GCIS will continue to improve communication techniques, tools and methods based on scientific research - critical to improving the communication landscape for ease of access to government programmes and policies. Emphasis will be placed on delivering integrated, easily-accessible information in the languages and channels most preferred by the public, and especially the marginalised.
These, then, hon members, are some of the ways in which the GCIS has during the past year sought to expand public access to government information. Research indicates that these efforts have had impact, and that the proportion of the public who feel that they are receiving enough information from government has significantly increased. Nevertheless, that proportion is still too low – and it is the poorest amongst those most in need of such information.
It is gratifying to record progress in the efforts to make information about opportunities more accessible. But welcome as this is, it needs to be multiplied many times over to meet the public need. As in all crucial initiatives to transform our country, government cannot on its own bring about what must be done. To succeed, government must work with the private sector and civil society groupings in their various forms. Government regards the media as an extremely important institution and a partner in ensuring that citizens have the greatest access possible to information.
This government is committed to transparency. Cabinet communicates its decisions after every meeting through the GCIS to keep the public up to date about the decisions of the executive. The regular media briefings on the implementation of the Programme of Action and the updating of the progress online provide the public with factual information on the basis of which analysis and assessment of government progress can be made.
Usage of BuaNews – government's news agency – by community and some national media continues to grow. Internationally, stories were used in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, South East Asia, India and Pakistan, among other countries. This translates into nine agreements signed with agencies that continue to use BuaNews as a source of news from South Africa. We are the first to admit that a lot more needs to be done.
The GCIS will continue to give support to Cabinet in its interaction with the SA National Editors Forum to ensure media has access to Cabinet as the highest policy decision-making body of government. Work will continue in reducing levels of antagonism between government and some media houses by building better relations and engaging journalists on government programmes and policies aimed at building a country that belongs to all. The Media Diversity and Development Agency, MDDA, continues to play a vital role in fostering diversity and development within the media and communication landscape, supported by the GCIS and the broadcast, print and electronic media houses.
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the contributions made by the MDDA CEO, Mr Lumko Mtimde, Ms Gugu Msibi and her board, as well as the MDDA staff. The MDDA was able to report to the portfolio committee before this debate that it continues to fulfil its regulatory obligations as stipulated in the Act; it has disbursed all the funds received from government and has signed funding agreements with print and electronic media. Appreciation is due to these partners that to date has approved support for 239 projects in community media and small commercial media across all provinces, and it will now work on its international funding strategy by tapping into the expertise of former members of the board.
Similarly, during the coming period, more attention will be paid to building communication partnerships with communicators in state-owned enterprises and community forums that have the expertise to enhance government communications to promote a better life – understood, witnessed, believed and lived by all South Africans.
As we deliberate on the GCIS budget, South Africa is hosting the Fifa Confederations Cup, the British Lions Tour and participating in the ICC Twenty20 Tournament in the UK. These sports events are positioning South Africa as one of the top sporting nations around the world ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. These events offer an opportunity of a lifetime to market the country, build national pride, unite South Africans and foster African solidarity.
As part of the communication partnership, the GCIS continues to ensure integration and implementation of communication for 2010, working with all key stakeholders in government and other sectors, and with the 2010 Fifa World Cup Organising Committee the GCIS will continue to lead and anchor communication for this prestigious tournament. Fundamental to this will be building on the collaboration of communication experts in all sectors via the 2010 National Communication Partnership, a voluntary public-private partnership. We live in a globalised world where an event in a community in South Africa can become an international story in hours.
HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Order! Hon Minister, you have one more minute.
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY: PERFORMANCE MONITORING AND EVALUATION, AS WELL AS ADMINISTRATION IN THE PRESIDENCY: Thank you very much, Chairperson.
Government communication will pursue what it has done for the past 15 years of democracy. What has been outlined is both an account of the use we made of the funds allocated in the last financial year and our priorities for 2009-10. The original budget allocated for 2008-09 was R418,255 million; after the adjustment estimates in September 2008, the budget increased to R439,832 million; at the end of the financial year, R427,484 million was spent - that is 97,2. The bulk of the saving of R12,3 million relates to two projects: R7,4 million for the Energy Efficiency Campaign was unspent due to late allocation by the Energy Efficiency Campaign, and R4 million allocated to the communication strategy for the opening of Parliament and the presidential inauguration was not use as these took place after the end of the financial year. Over the MTEF period, expenditure will increase at an average annual rate of 4,7%, mainly because the GCIS and the IMC will have completed their activities relating to the 2010 World Cup.
Over the MTEF period, the department will receive additional funds of R16 million, R33,1 million and R33,2 million, over the next three years respectively. The additional funds will mainly be used to accommodate the Re Kagiso Tshwane project during this and the next financial years; increased support to provincial offices; the state of the nation address and the opening of Parliament in 2009-10; establishing the government community radio link; running the Energy Efficiency Campaign; inflation-related adjustments; facilitating briefings by cluster Ministries; sustaining interaction between public representatives and the public; better organised and strategic communication leadership of government communication; and improved izimbizo and interaction.
I take this opportunity to welcome the new members of the portfolio committee. I'm looking forward to working very closely with you to ensure that the GCIS and its agencies, the IMC and MDDA, will continue to have a meaningful relationship with Parliament. I would like also to offer a word of warmest congratulations to the GCIS leadership under Mr Themba Maseko, the CEO. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr I VADI
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY: PERFORMANCE MONITORING AND EVALUATION, AS WELL AS ADMINISTRATION IN THE PRESIDENCY
Mr I VADI: Chairperson, it is my pleasure to introduce, on behalf of the Portfolio Committee on Communications, this Budget debate on the Government Communications and Information System. My colleagues from the ANC will speak on the specific entities linked to the GCIS, such as the International Marketing Council and the Media Diversity and Development Agency. I would, therefore, like to focus on the GCIS at a systemic level.
Before I proceed, I would like to extend a hearty welcome to Minister Collins Chabane, the new executive head of the GCIS. Other than being a talented musician who plays the marimba and the mouth organ, he is known for his warm and caring personality. He is a people's man and a good listener. I know him both as an activist and a former MP in this Parliament, who has tremendous foresight and the ability to survive under trying circumstances. It is good that this entity falls under a Minister who is an easy communicator.
The core responsibility of the GCIS is to achieve an integrated, co-ordinated and coherent government communications and information system. Its mandate requires that its communication be extended so that: Firstly, the public has information about government, is able to participate in the transformation process and improve their own lives; secondly, it brings the realities of our emerging democracy to the attention of the international community; and thirdly, it promotes African renaissance, including regional integration and the implementation of people-centred development programmes.
In short then, the GCIS has to provide strategic leadership and guidance on all aspects of government communication with the public, both domestically and internationally. Its communication policy should be a management tool to ensure that the public receives timely, accurate, objective and complete information about government policies, programmes and services. It is not difficult to say with confidence that the GCIS has made strides in fulfilling this mandate. Its regular, post-Cabinet media briefings are an excellent example of the executive transparency and openness, whose aim is not to suppress government information, but to reveal and to inform.
The GCIS has also established a constructive relationship with the SA National Editors' Forum, which has improved relations between government and the media. It has extensive communications research tools for strategising and advising Cabinet on its communication imperatives. In addition, as we've heard, over 130 operational Thusong Service Centres have been established. It has produced a range of products in different official languages in an attempt to popularise the President's state of the nation address.
The South Africa Yearbook and the Pocket Guide to South Africa are published annually and distributed to schools, libraries and tertiary institutions free of charge. They are also available to foreign tourists interested in reading more about our beautiful country. The popular magazine, Vuk'uzenzele, together with a Braille partner magazine has a print run of 1,5 million copies.
These and the list of successes described by the Minister earlier on are important for us. Those are notable successes of the GCIS, but I want to raise one important question to the Minister and the officials of the GCIS, which is whether or not the GCIS is effectively co-ordinating government's daily messages. Are we getting it right every time, everyday? That's the key question. Some of you might remember that I've raised this matter in last year's debate. I said then that, although the GCIS has served several co-ordinating mechanisms, such as the Government Communications Forum, it is too early to tell whether or not these structures are having the desired effect. We must ask whether the GCIS is at the cutting edge of media in this country. Is it the key instrument that shapes public perceptions of our government or is this race won by the private media houses? It seems to me that the GCIS does exceptionally well when there is a noncontentious story to be told, but it falters when confronted with controversies – and I said this last year.
A prime example of this dithering was the day when Minister Trevor Manuel resigned. Government's credibility as a whole was undermined by the contradictory statements from different government structures. So the question that we must still answer is: what is preventing the GCIS from co-ordinating government's messages so that it speaks with one voice regularly and consistently? We must get a satisfactory response to this question and a clear plan of action to overcome this weakness.
Then there are still too many complaints from the media and the public about the standards of government communicators. I'm sure all of us have heard some departmental or ministerial spokespersons on TV and radio. They are just not effective communicators. They are not convincing in what they say and how they say it leaves much to be desired.
Modern communications is really based on the concept of a two-way dialogue between the communicator and the audience. In fact, the communicator must be both communicator and audience in the sense that he/she must listen to audience reactions to the messages being imparted. The old style of communication as a way of simply telling people things or persuading them to act and respond in certain ways, is inadequate in a modern democracy. Sadly, some of our government communicators don't understand this new concept. So, what is the GCIS doing to make sure that good standards are set and adhered to, and what effective communication training programmes are in place to reach the desired standards?
To overcome some of these weaknesses, I would like to propose three recommendations: Firstly, the GCIS should ensure uniformity in the delivery of government's core messages by assuming overall command and control of government communications. This concept of command and control is a military type of concept, but if you want to get an effective communications machinery in place you've got to exercise overall control over the process.
Secondly, the GCIS must make government communication more professional within the system by introducing standard practices of communication, tailor the qualification requirements for government communicators and insist on participation in regular communication skills training programmes at all levels of government.
Thirdly, the GCIS mechanism for co-ordination needs to be revised so that it allows for the co-ordination and imparting of core messages rather than just the co-ordination of communication structures. I think up until now we've been trying to get the structures in place in order to meet and co-ordinate, but what I'm suggesting is that we must get co-ordination over the message content rather than just at the structural level.
On the Media Diversity and Development Agency, we have already raised in the committee the question of its location. Should it really be located in the Presidency? We welcome the response of Minister Chabane that the matter will receive proper attention in the next phase of the restructuring process.
The MDDA is generally a well-run outfit with sound financial control measures, but I still want to ask one important question about the MDDA: Are we getting the best returns on our investment in the MDDA? Where and just how extensive is the diversity of our media? After 15 years do we really have a diverse media system in our country? How do we know that media development is actually occurring? Even without a monitoring and evaluation system in place, surely we should by now have journalists emerging from the MDDA system of training and development who should be able to take their rightful place in the big media institutions of our country. If we cannot answer these questions, I think we should review our entire approach to media diversity and development in this country.
We've heard the Minister say, and he also told us in the committee, that the GCIS is undertaking an overall review of its systems and operations. This review is both timely and appropriate. We hope that its findings and the recommendations will be presented to the committee in the very near future. At the same time we can say with confidence and pride that the GCIS has made headway in developing a durable and transparent Government Communication Information System that is so vital in the an emerging democracy. Therefore the ANC supports this vote. [Applause.]
Ms L D MAZIBUKO
Mr I VADI
Ms L D MAZIBUKO: Chairperson, hon Minister, the DA broadly supports the work of the Government Communications and Information System, which exists to ensure that the citizens of this country are afforded access to information about the extent to which the government of the day has been effective in implementing its delivery mandate.
The question of extent, however, is the key to this. Our people need to be informed about the good news and the challenges which the government faces, and we should not allow situations to arise wherein we, as a Parliament of the people, allocate funds to the department so that it can spend these funds on loving advertorials and paid-for broadcasting of government successes, while neglecting the provision of information about the challenges the government faces, and how they will be addressed, and while information for citizens to access government services are given second billing.
The GCIS is in the unfortunate position where it is possible for the government of the day to conflate the issues of the party versus the issues of the state with regard to its mandate, particularly when it comes to informing the public about policy and programming implementation. This can very easily deteriorate into a situation where a state department is then roped in to market, the IMC in this case, at the expense of the South African taxpayer. [Interjections.] This is a tension that was brought into very stark relief during our recent election campaigns when the DA raised concerns about what appeared to be a spike in expensive state advertising campaigns, highlighting the successes of the ANC government, and thus affording the government and the governing party an opportunity to deepen their already expensive campaign pockets.
So, while we support the department's resolve, as was highlighted in the Chief Executive Officer's presentation to this portfolio committee, to make a difference in the lives of the people by providing information on programmes that will develop and strengthen partnerships to build the country and alleviate poverty; and while, for the same reasons, we also support initiatives such as the goal of having Thusong Service Centres in every municipality by 2014, in order to broaden access to government information and services to communities throughout South Africa, as well as the department's commitment to addressing some of the challenges facing this programme; it remains of deep concern to the DA that this department shouldn't become a state-funded mouthpiece for the ANC. [Interjections.]
This raises questions around the GCIS' stated commitment in the medium-term strategic plan to: "strengthen unmediated communication." The hon Minister has referred to this as ensuring that government messages are rendered unpolluted. The DA would contend that an effective government has nothing to fear from a critical and free media. It is, therefore, of concern to us that the department would see this as one of its priority areas in the medium-term.
During the portfolio committee presentation by the GCIS, hon Killian rightly made the point that the need for the GCIS to advertise, particularly in the broadcast media, which is very expensive, is tenuous, given that it is advertising a service for which it has no competitors. Indeed, the CEO, Mr Maseko, has indicated that media briefings and press conferences are often enough to convey government messages to the public. This would then indicate that we need to pay attention to the extent to which the GCIS relies on paid-for platforms, at the taxpayer's expense to communicate the government's message.
Similarly, we welcome the GCIS' commitment to improved interaction with the free media in order to ensure that the press have adequate access to the executive. This is a very healthy approach to the government relationship with the fourth estate, but the emphasis on the need to use this interaction to: "ensure proper media coverage" brings to mind decidedly unhealthy images of the recent fiasco in which news editors and journalist from the public broadcaster, the SABC, were summoned by the governing party to Luthuli House to account for their portrayal of the then-presidential candidate, Mr Jacob Zuma. We sincerely hope that this is not the spirit in which the GCIS plans to engage with the media.
Broadly, what the DA would hope is that the GCIS will, in the implementation of its mandate, ensure that a critical balance is struck to prevent the dissemination of government information from becoming the dissemination of party propaganda. I Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms J D KILLIAN
Ms L D MAZIBUKO
Ms J D KILLIAN: Chairperson, Minister Chabane and officials of the GCIS, although this is one of the smaller Budget Votes, the specific programmes and projects funded in Vote 6 has a major influence on local and international perceptions of South Africa as a country, a democracy in Africa, an investment destination, a people and an economy - the impact of which the social and economic implications cannot be underestimated.
We know what the aim of the GCIS is and that is: to provide a comprehensive communications system on behalf of government; and to facilitate the participation of all South Africans in governance, reconstruction and development, nation-building and reconciliation. All of us can support that. According to presentations made to the committee by Mr Themba Maseko and some of the agencies responsible for management of transfer of payments, much has been achieved over the past few years. Some elements of specific programmes, however, require further evaluation and scrutiny.
I would just like to make some comments on administration: Hon Vadi referred to the need to establish a professional outfit in the department. I do believe that it is clear that the department's key functions comprise of management and support and that those functions are labour intensive and you really require professionals to get the job done. However, we should always be mindful of natural tendencies in all bureaucratic environments. Too often top structures become very heavy and bloated, while the real professionals - those who have to render the practical support and the expertise to a department, unfettered by political influence, - become overburdened and underpaid. A lean, mean structure with clear lines of communication and accountability usually does wonders.
Some other programmes that require further scrutiny are those relating to policy and research, the co-ordination of provincial communication departments as well as the Communications Service Agency Programme. I would like to group them together and make the point that hon Mazibuko also referred to: This issue was raised in the committee, but it is critical for this department to monitor effectively the communication plans of departments. I am not arguing for managing the content, I am arguing for managing the type of communication plans that they are developing.
The dramatic worldwide economic meltdown necessitates cost cutting exercises and a renewed focus on value for money operations. How can we have advertisements placed on prime time radio and television also in prominent print media of an agency such as the SA National Roads agency, Sanral. The SA Roads Agency has no competitor. It has a monopoly. The question then arises whether appropriate attention was given to the ultimate goal of the relevant campaign which is currently run.
If it were to inform the public about programmes and ask for co-operation, tolerance and patience during essential road works, one could understand that. In desperate economic times appropriate content and message management guidelines are essential and they should be implemented to ensure effective use of public funds. Messages with relevant information directed to the right target audience in a cost-effective manner, in this instance, would probably have been better rather than just ordinary advertisements running, very often, as self-edifying advertisements of the institution or individual's management.
That brings me to the International Marketing Communication, IMC, and the Media Development diversity Agency, MDDA, a lot has been said about these two institutions. However, I want to say that, what is important in this exercise, is that it is spending quite a large proportion of the budget and therefore we should look at the efficacy of these institutions.
My argument is that if we spend money on the IMC, South Africa as a global player, we must ensure that we do not have conflicting massages from government, specifically as recently seen in the past week or two. [Time expired.] Would it be possible for me to make use of some of the remaining DA time? Thank you.
Mr K M ZONDI
Ms J D KILLIAN
Mr K M ZONDI: Chairperson, the whole country is waiting with positive expectation on the successful implementation of the programmes and the intentions of the new government. Critical to the successful implementation and endorsement of the government programmes will be the role of the Government Communication Information System, GCIS, whose Budget Vote we are debating here today. I want to state from the outset that my party will support this Budget Vote because of the critically important role we think the GCIS has to play in the successful implementation of the government programmes as well as in promoting a buy in from the public.
This does not, however, mean that we are 100% satisfied with the current and past performance of the GCIS. We do so in the understanding that the GCIS will accept that there is always room for improvement in the execution of their mandate, for example, I pointed out during briefings to the portfolio committee last week that, while the communication and information aspects of the GCIS at national level were very effective and satisfactory, the communication abilities of provinces and municipalities leave much to be desired. We want to, once again, implore the leadership of the GCIS to attend to this as a matter of urgency.
The issue I would like to raise in this debate is that of the information documentation that comes out of the GCIS such as Vuk'uzenzele: Firstly, we believe that there is room to improve the user-friendly nature of the contents, so that even those of our people who are not literate enough could derive maximum benefit from the publications of the GCIS.
Secondly, the distribution system and the network of the publications and information leaflets of the GCIS may work very well in urban areas, but in rural areas such as the district of Nkandla, a district both our President and I come from, are very problematic and require attention and improvement.
It is also of the utmost importance that the leadership of the GCIS reviews government's advertising, especially by provincial governments such as that of KwaZulu-Natal. They must also communicate with the public through advertisements in the media, but we must be vigilant that the quality and nature of the content of such advertisements are not being abused to promote and enhance the personal profiles and standing of individual MECs within the political power stakes of their own political party at the expense of public funds.
I am sure that if the political leadership of the GCIS and the Presidency are sensitive to the necessity of separation between party and state, our fledgling democracy will be deepened and grow in the right direction. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms M R MORUTOA
Mr K M ZONDI
Ms M R MORUTOA: Chairperson, hon Ministers, hon Deputy Ministers, hon Members of Parliament and distinguished guests, firstly, I want to assure Ms Mazibuko that the ANC doesn't need the Government Communications and Information System, GCIS. It has its own viable structure in Luthuli House, the department of information, and you should start focusing on building your organisation and stop being a mouthpiece for other people.
I dedicate this International Marketing Council, IMC, budget speech to the late former Minister of Communication Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri. Malibongwe igama lamakhosikazi!
The International Marketing Council of South Africa was established in August 2002 to help create a positive and compelling brand image for South Africa. At that time, the world was unsure about what to think of South Africa, with many different messages being sent out by various sources. This did very little to build the country's brand, and it was evident that, to attract tourists and investment, there was a need to co-ordinate marketing initiatives to make them more effective.
This led to the creation of the IMC, whose main objective is the marketing of South Africa through the Brand South Africa campaign. There are many benefits to having a consolidated brand image, with the most important being that a consistent Brand South Africa message creates strategic advantages in terms of trade and tourism for the country in an increasingly competitive market place. From May to November 2008, the IMC was subject to a strategic review initiated by the executive authority of the Minister in the Presidency. The review was overseen by a reverence group comprising of members of the IMC board and other stakeholders.
Ordinary people must form an integral part of the global marketing effort, not only the global South African community. This can be made possible via word of mouth, networking and opinion pieces in the media.
UMzantsi Afrika lelinye lamazwe azidlayo ngenkcubeko naziqhenyayo ngezinto zawo, ukugcina ubuthanda zwe. Indlela uMzantsi Afrika ophawulwe ngayo kufuneka ithengise eli ilizwe lethu ngaphandle ngokuthi ibonise izinto ozenze ngokwawo. Asifuni ke ukuba yonke into eyenziwa nguMzantsi sisoloko siyithatha kwilizwe laseMelika. Sifuna ukuba nakwamanye amazwe afana namazwe aseAsiya naseNdiya zibe khona izinto esizithathayo nakuwo, asinakube silinganisa iMelika yonke le mihla.
The recent state of the nation address gives a clear indication of how ANC policy proposals are being translated into government programmes and how the budget should respond to this. The critical indicator is the ANC five-point manifesto and the relationship of expenditure in the budget to this framework. To keep the momentum, it is important also for South Africa to keep the world informed of the country's development, both politically and economically. With the open global market, where developing countries compete for foreign investment, it is imperative for South Africa to proactively market itself for purposes of the country's economic growth. In the same way, the branding of South Africa should be in a sense more South African to show the outside that South Africa is proudly South African.
In the past elections, South Africans gathered in their thousands in orderly queues to have their say in the future of the democratic South Africa in the same place that the demonstrators once stood. Perhaps it had something to do with the tiny figure of Lord Nelson on his towering column, peering out over Parliament Square, where an animated statue of our own Nelson Mandela is flanked by the likes of Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Gen Jan Smuts – the only other South African in the square.
It was a day on which South Africans filed onto South African soil in unprecedented numbers, thanks to a decision by the Constitutional Court - the cornerstone of South Africa's democracy – which compelled government to extend voting facilities to all South Africans abroad who are on the voters' roll. They waited patiently and quietly, reading the latest copy of The South African, chatting quietly about their reasons for being in the UK; why they were voting; and exchanging memories, hopes and fears for their beloved country.
It also took me back to 1994, when I had felt so privileged to be part of the first election in which all South Africans were able to vote - most of the time. The long queues at places snaking for kilometres and many South Africans got to know each other for the first time as they waited for hours to cast their votes. Back then it was both a deeply moving, humbling and powering experience. And so it was again yesterday, 14 June 2009, when President Jacob Zuma officially opened the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg
On 11 May 2009, the International Marketing Council of South Africa launched its 2010 Fifa World Cup marketing campaign that celebrates two global football spectaculars. The campaign is engineering to ignite the nation and the continent behind both the Fifa Confederations Cup and the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the global football spectacular and South Africa's status as the first African host nation. The campaign is a collaboration between the International Marketing Council, a custodian of the South African national brand; South African Tourism, a destination marketing organisation; and the 2010 organising committee, custodians of the 2010 Fifa World Cup event.
At the heart of the Africa campaign is an invitation for Africa to unite and rally behind the 2010 Fifa World Cup, while the domestic focus is on celebrating ordinary South Africans as champions who will make the 2010 event a reality and a stunning success. Both campaigns celebrate Africa's passion for football. This celebration drives excitement for a football campaign that will be colourful, vibrant, intoxicating and alive with a fusion of cultures, dance, song and music.
In conclusion, it is important for the IMC for South Africa to keep a sustained effort on marketing the country internationally. This is very important, particularly amidst the global economic crisis that is sliding developing countries' economies into recessions. South Africa is in a good stead, both politically and economically. What the IMC needs to do is to maintain this status while also taking proactive measures to avoid complacency as regards South Africa's international standing.
Ndiyabulela, enkosi. iANC iyayisekela le budget. [Kwaqhwatywa.]
Mr L N MKHIZE
Ms M R MORUTOA
Mr L N MKHIZE: Chairperson, Minister, board members and MDDA staff present, the Media Development and Diversity Agency was established in 2003 to create an enabling environment for historically disadvantaged communities who were deprived of access to information to assist them to actively participate in the democratic process of our country. The other rationale was that the South African media was dominated by male and white people. As a result, the media houses lack diversity and the recognition of the indigenous languages and culture of the majority.
The MDDA firstly, supports media-related projects with the intention to create a favourable environment for local media development and diversity in terms of the target, content language; and secondly, aims to redress exclusion and marginalisation of disadvantaged communities from access to electronic and print media and the media industry as a whole. Through the MDDA, we are moving in the right direction in assisting the people of South Africa to access information in the language of their choice and to transform media access, ownership and control patterns.
The MDDA has supported various projects and initiatives from ordinary people who are eager to assist their communities. Most of those community radio stations are in rural areas. Those who come from KwaZulu-Natal will agree with me when I say that Maputaland Radio Station is located in Jozini.
Kwa Mhlabuyalingana [It's a place near Jozini.]
The agency has managed to award 55 bursaries to different radio and print managers; R77 million in grants to 239 media projects; and trained 498 people from the various provinces. These are encouraging and positive stories that need to be appreciated by all of us, particularly by the young people of South Africa. Well done to the MDDA, because most of the projects are in rural areas and in townships and not concentrated in one province, but scattered to all provinces.
I would also like to raise challenges facing the agency: challenges like limited funding. As the portfolio committee, we have noted that the issue of funding is a serious matter. The other challenges are the shortage of staff and low salaries; limited capacity to monitor and evaluate all projects adequately. Another challenge is the unfavourable market environment for print media development.
Labo abebephethe kuqala basafuna ukuphatha namanje. [Those that were in power before want to be in power again.]
Things that require MDDA focus are things like strengthening the monitoring and evaluation capacity. For me it is critical for the MDDA to strengthen its capacity to monitor and evaluate, because it's one thing to create more projects, but without any proper evaluation and monitoring we will end up asking the same question the chairperson of the portfolio committee had just asked about the MDDA and its efficacy. Another task is to popularise your work. The MDDA is doing good work, but it is not popularising it. Go out there and advertise if needs be. Engage other private funders to support your projects, because to rely on funding from government will sometimes be a challenge. It was encouraging to know that the MDDA has since 2003 always received an unqualified audit report. Hon Minister, give them more money. They know how to utilise it, unlike others.
In conclusion, the agency has been able to implement chapters 6 and 31 of our Constitution. Indeed, it is a strategic mechanism for government to support and transform the media of South Africa and reverse the imbalances of the past - when I talk about government, I am talking about the ANC government.
We urge young people to seize this opportunity created by the ANC government. We further encourage the private sector to also support such initiatives for the advancement of a better life for all. Indeed, together we can do more to change the lives of ordinary people for the better. The ANC supports the budget. Thank you.
Ms M N MAGAZI
Mr L N MKHIZE
Ms M N MAGAZI: Chairperson, good afternoon Minister, hon members, it was my brief in this Budget Vote to debate and clarify the role of the GCIS.
The objective of the GCIS is to articulate our government's mandate and its implementation thereof. In other words, the role of the GCIS is to report on the achievements of government in order to inform the public. The GCIS adopts the following approach in order to execute its task: The GCIS provides leadership in government communication and ensuring a better performance by the communication system. it takes responsibility for ensuring that government is communicating interactively with the public and for the communication of government's vision and approaches to broad areas.
It strengthens and integrates government's communication system by consolidating co-ordination forums such as the government communication forums. It further enhances the communication environment within which the GCIS operates and contributes to the monitoring of government activities – a function often understated and overlooked.
The GCIS builds a framework for communication partnerships informed by an encompassing vision around common development objectives. It takes responsibility for promoting partnerships among all communicators inside and outside of government in articulating a shared vision and value system for a caring society and in broadening access to the means of receiving and imparting information. This includes improving relations with the media and with communicators in parastatal bodies and in the private sector, including international marketing efforts. In other words, the GCIS works towards an active partnership among the country's communicators.
It further seeks to promote awareness of opportunities brought about by democracy and how to access them. This, fellow colleagues, is perhaps the most crucial function of the GCIS. The GCIS ensures the provision of the basic information to the public about the rights of citizens and how to take advantage of government's socioeconomic programmes. The izimbizo programme continues to demonstrate the value of face to face communication as the most appropriate means of communicating across government. Hundreds of izimbizo were held in which the national executive mayors, premiers and councillors interacted with communities in every corner of our country. This is a clear indication that our democracy is reaching a higher level, as the executive regularly gets the opportunity to listen to and be heard by our citizens. All matters raised during the izimbizo receive urgent attention from government through the GCIS.
The GCIS manages and co-ordinates partnerships and stakeholders in support of provincial directorates and provides strategic guidance and support to provincial offices to strengthen the government communications system both locally. Given the critical role of the regional environment and the development of our continent, the GCIS encourages and actively collaborates with other departments across government and society to enhance public awareness of developments in the region and on the continent and promotes engagement with regional and continental institutions and programmes. It also articulates and markets the benefits of African development to both our country and continent. The GCIS also develops strategies for publicising key campaigns and events. Examples of such events are the 16 Days of Activism for no Violence Against Women and Children and of course the 2010 Fifa World Cup. It also provides information on the general process of policy development and implementation.
The prompt release of information to electorates is crucial in shaping their voting preferences. The sharing or transfer of information relating to the achievements - or for that matter, nonachievements - of government contributes to their decision-making. Voters, as we saw in the recent national general election, respond positively to reliable, valid and comprehensive information. The outcome of the national general election is testimony to this. The ANC supports this Budget Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY: PERFORMANCE MONITORING AND EVALUATION, AS WELL AS ADMINISTRATION IN THE PRESIDENCY
Ms M N MAGAZI
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY: PERFORMANCE MONITORING AND EVALUATION, AS WELL AS ADMINISTRATION IN THE PRESIDENCY: Chairperson, thank you to all hon members for their encouragement and words of support expressed. We have noted the recommendations and suggestions made by members and, hopefully, as we meet in the committees, we will indicate as to have far we have incorporated some of these valuable issues raised.
There are only two issues one could comment on: Firstly, the matter raised by the hon Mazibuko around the SABC and Luthuli House. Unfortunately we are not responsible for the SABC, so I think that will be raised directly with the relevant committee or the SABC itself, because I think it also accounts to Parliament. So these issues can be raised with them. As far as I know the meeting had not been organised by the GCIS, so we will not be able to account for that.
Secondly, on the issue of conflating the state and the party, we are in a party system, so from time to time you will find an overlap of messages because of the nature of our democracy and the way it is. The intention is not to communicate on behalf of the party, and that we can guarantee, and we will try to make sure that that does not happen. In cases where it happens I think parties have their own machinery and resources to deal with that. What we should do, however, is to try to make sure that the state and the people are one and that they move in the same direction. To that extent, I think we will make mistakes from time to time, but we will have to endeavour to ensure that there is no gap between the state and the people on the ground. To do that, the House and members will also be able to assist us to deal with that. I can assure you that, from our side, I doubt that a situation will arise where we will have an antagonistic confrontation with the media. Let me put it that way. So, there should be no fear by the media in what we, as the GCIS, do that they should not feel as if they are being constrained. We do need to continue to provide the service expected of us.
Most of the issues were recommendations that we will be able to report on as we interact with the committee, as I said, and you will be able to indicate what we are doing about it and what steps we are taking to take that into account. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
The Committee rose at 17:30
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