Hansard: EPC: Debate on Vote No 3 – Communications
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 20 May 2015
No summary available.
EPC – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 Take: 97
WEDNESDAY, 20 MAY 2015
PROCEEDINGS OF THE EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in the Old Assembly Chamber at 15:01.
House Chairperson Ms A T Didiza, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
HOUSEKEEPING RULES FOR GUESTS IN THE GALLERY
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms A T Didiza): On behalf of the Minister and Deputy Minister, we would like to welcome the Minister’s guests – who are now our guests – to this House.
There are some housekeeping rules that you should be aware of while you are our guests. There are things that you need to know; the do’s and the don’ts. When the House is in session and members are debating, there may be moments when you feel you want to clap hands. Please do not do so; it is not allowed. There may be moments when you really feel irritated by some interventions. Please don’t scream and show your displeasure.
So, you may only observe the members. They can be very robust in their discussion. Your role is just to appreciate.
Those are the housekeeping rules.
For the members, note that there are podiums on each side from which you may speak.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms A T Didiza)
Debate on Vote No 3 – Communications:
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Chairperson; hon members; the chairperson of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, and other councillors; the chairpersons and board members of the SABC; Brand SA; the Media Development and Diversity Agency, MDDA; the Film and Publication Board, FPB; members of the media; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, at the start I first need to greet the communities of Gugulethu. They are watching us live from there. We started there earlier in the morning, doing a community outreach programme. So, hello, Gugulethu! Hello! [Applause.]
I stand here today to address you on the eve of Africa Day. As an integral part of the African continent, South Africa will celebrate Africa Month by means of a month-long celebration. Let us use this month to actively encourage greater social cohesion and nation-building, while also fostering unity. South Africa is an integral part of the African continent. Together we can build a better South Africa and a better Africa. [Applause.]
Today, we are honoured to present the Department of Communications Budget Vote No 3in this august House under the theme ``New Department: New Possibilities’’. The process to establish the Department of Communications has been completed. Our mission is to create an enabling environment for the provision of inclusive communication services to all South Africans in a manner that promotes socioeconomic development and investment through broadcasting, new media, print media and other technologies, and brand the country locally and internationally. It is a task we take seriously.
Our vision, as guided by the National Development Plan, NDP, envisages an active citizenry that participates in the socioeconomic life of the country. It states that –
In 2030, South Africans will be more conscious of the things they have in common than of their differences, and that their lived experiences will progressively undermine and cut across the divisions of race, gender, disability, space and class.
It is our firm belief that this is achievable when government is at the centre of providing effective and efficient communication to support these aspirations.
According to the Statistics SA General Household Survey 2013, South Africa has 12 million TV-owning households of which 62% rely solely on free-to-air broadcasting services, with the remaining 38% relying on pay services. In the recent past we have seen the introduction of new players in the broadcasting industry to compete with the incumbent pay operator. We are also seeing the introduction of over-the-top television in South Africa.
With regard to the print media, little has changed since 1994. In 1994, Times Media, Naspers, Caxton and Argus were the big four media houses. Twenty-one years later, the picture looks very much the same, with 95% of the market share still in the hands of the big four. This must be a cause for concern for all of us. The question we should ask ourselves is what it is that we can do to ensure that this status does not remain the same for years to come. We do acknowledge that there are a significant number of community media players, thanks to the Media Development and Diversity Agency of South Africa.
The broadcasting digital migration programme remains a flagship of the department. Utilising our collective efforts and wisdom, we will do all we can to ensure that the migration process commences during the second quarter of this financial year. We therefore call on all stakeholders to work together with us to realise this objective.
We are mindful of the fact that the country will not meet the 17 June 2015 analogue switch-off date as set by the International Telecommunication Union. We are ready to consult with Cabinet on the digital signal switch-on date.
We are happy to inform the House that in March 2015, Cabinet approved the final amendments to the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy, which unlocks the project to enable implementation.
Cabinet further approved that government would provide free set-top boxes to the five million poor TV-owning households. Free set-top boxes to the five million poor TV-owning households! [Applause.] This shift is a reflection of government’s commitment to ensure that digital migration happens within the shortest time possible.
The department will be launching a focused public awareness campaign in the next four weeks. An amount of R22 million has been identified to enable the implementation of the broadcasting digital migration awareness campaign. Key messages have been developed. We will work with local traditional leaders in implementing the digital migration awareness campaign. In this regard, I am joined – they are in the gallery - by Kgosi Jeffrey Montshioa from Barolong borra Tshidi in the North West province and Chief Davhana Davhana of Hamangilasi. [Applause.]
We are hard at work to conclude and sign bilateral engagements with our six neighbouring countries namely, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland in order to minimise cross-border radio frequency spectrum interference. [Applause.] As we speak here today, the technical team is already in Botswana for these engagements and we will join them tomorrow to finalise a memorandum of understanding between South Africa and Botswana in this respect. On 27 May 2015 and 3 June 2015 we will be in Lesotho and Swaziland concluding similar memoranda of understanding.
We do this because we have prioritised South African communities alongside the borderline areas for the distribution of set-top boxes in order to mitigate any potential frequency spectrum interferences. We anticipate expediting the roll-out of set-top boxes, and this will be completed in the coming 18 to 24 months so that we can switch off the analogue signal and begin to realise the benefits of the digital dividend to allow for the roll-out of wireless broadband services. The progress on this programme so far marks another good story to tell.
The department is poised to deliver on its policy mandate. In this regard, we have prioritised the finalisation of the overarching national communications policy during this financial year. The primary objective of the policy is to ensure that communication across the three spheres of government is well co-ordinated, effectively managed and responsive to the diverse information needs of the public.
During this financial year we will finalise the review of the broadcasting policy. We have since received comments from the industry on the areas we are looking at. During the third quarter we will release a discussion document to further solicit inputs from the general public.
As more people, especially children, access digital content online, challenges arise. We have prioritised the development and adoption of the Online Content Regulations Policy. Consultations on this policy are currently underway. The policy aims to create a framework in relation to online content distribution in the country. Once adopted, the policy will bring about a comprehensive and fundamental transformation for online content regulation in the country. We call upon all interested parties to work with the Film and Publication Board to ensure that this policy is finalised in order to properly classify digital content and ensure that children are sufficiently protected from exposure to disturbing and harmful content. We anticipate that this policy will serve before Cabinet in the third quarter of this financial year.
During the state of the nation address, President Jacob Zuma said:
Our youth is our future and their success fills us with immense pride.
In line with President Zuma’s emphasis on youth, I am hosting two special pupils – Unarine Luthanda and Munene Murudi – from Edson Secondary School and Pfunekani Primary School in Thulamela, in the rural province of Limpopo. [Applause.]
Transformation of the media remains at the apex of our priorities for this current financial year. Work is currently underway to finalise the media transformation policy. As part of finalising this policy we will also investigate the possibility of pooling government media assets with a view to support the creation of a black-owned media house in the country. We anticipate that consultations on the contents of the policy will commence early in the second quarter of the financial year. We further invite all interested parties to participate in this process.
There is a saying in the broadcasting sector that content is king. In line with this saying and the need to prepare the broadcasting sector for digital terrestrial television, we will finalise the Audio-Visual Content Development Strategy during this financial year. This strategy, amongst others, proposes the establishment of content-generation hubs in rural provinces. We will finalise the strategy during the second quarter of this financial year.
State-owned companies are the delivery arms of the department. We commit to ensure that all entities in our stable deliver value to the public as per the founding legislation. For the financial year 2015-16, R1,281 billion has been allocated to Vote 3, of which R70,7 million – 6% of the total budget – is to cover operational expenses of the Department of Communications and R1,21 billion – 94% – is allocated to state-owned entities and the Government Communication and Information System, GCIS, to carry out their various mandates.
The Government Communication and Information System is the primary department for information about government and the services it provides to the people. The GCIS continues to professionalise the communication system by building a reliable knowledge base and enhancing communication products. This year, GCIS will intensify its training of communicators to strengthen strategic government communication at provincial and local government level. Executive Mayor of the Waterberg District Municipality, Ms Rosina Magotlane, and Councillor Simon Mathebula from Ward 17 in Malamulele in Thulamela Municipality, are here with us today. Councillors, we will start in your respective municipalities.
The GCIS is entrusted with leading the implementation of the Cabinet-approved National Communication Strategy, a far-reaching initiative to energise and focus communication output in government. In addition to this, we have assigned GCIS the responsibility of amplifying our communications effort in partnership with the State-Owned Entities Communicators Association, Soeca, a structure which the department launched in November 2014.
In growing the voice of government communication, GCIS produces a range of communication platforms and products that carry information on government programmes and projects that contribute to an informed citizenry – a key requirement of the National Development Plan, NDP. These include the Media Landscape Book, which monitors media transformation; and the weekly electronic newsletter, My District Today, which shares information from the coalface of service delivery to government, organised labour, business, civil society formations, faith groups and the media.
The Government Communication and Information System will produce 20,4 million copies of our flagship newspaper, Vukuzenzele and ensure that it is available in all parts of the country in all official languages. From 1 August 2015, Vukuzenzele will carry advertisements of vacant positions in government. We have also launched a mobile application in this regard.
The Government Communication and Information System has been allocated R365,5 million in support of its work. We will continue to support the work of the GCIS to ensure that all citizens are informed about government programmes and projects.
We will also continue to motivate for additional financial resources to support the important work of communicating government’s record of service delivery to our people. This will also include the amount allocated to the GCIS for compensation of employees and services. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms A T Didiza): Order, hon members! Minister, please hold on. Hon members, can we please not have a dialogue across ... [Interjections.] Hon member of the DA. [Interjections.] Can we please not have a dialogue across ... Can we please allow the Minister to present? If you need a tête-à-tête, you can go outside and have a conversation. For now, let us allow the speakers to be heard. Thank you, hon members. Hon Minister, you may proceed.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Chairperson, as I was saying, the GCIS has made significant strides in implementing development communication through direct, unmediated communication through government’s Izimbizo programme. This work is premised on communication research which ensures that government messages reach the majority of South Africans.
Solid progress has also been made in the cluster communication system that is the backbone in driving government’s information programme, including the fostering of sound stakeholder relationships and partnerships.
We celebrate the fact that the SA Broadcasting Corporation, SABC, is in a sound financial state and had a cash and cash equivalent balance of R1,02 billion at the end of the 2014-15 financial year. [Interjections.] We thank the board and management of the corporation for turning the tide and we hope that it will grow from strength to strength. [Applause.]
I am happy to inform this House that the SABC has issued its 9th Request for Proposals book on local content, which amounted to R600 million, surpassing the previous one, which was over R100 million, making it the biggest Request for Proposals book issued by the SABC for local content to date.
We have stabilised the management of the corporation by filling the positions of the chief operations officer, chief financial officer, Head of News and other executives. I am happy to inform the House that more than 50% of the executive committee members are women, which is a first in the history of the SABC. [Applause.]
The SABC is on the move! On 11 May 2015, we launched an entertainment channel, SABC Encore, on the DSTV platform, channel 156, making it the 5th television channel under the SABC.
From this coming Friday, 22 May 2015, the SABC News Channel will be broadcast to the entire African continent. This channel is a model of what the SABC will offer to its customers in the new digital environment. We say ``well done’’ to the SABC! Well done! [Applause.]
Government continues to support the SABC in its discharge of its public broadcasting service mandate. During this financial year, R173 million of the department’s budget has been allocated to the corporation, of which R49,6 million has been allocated to the operation of Channel Africa. Furthermore, we will develop a funding model for the SABC during this financial year. We know that there is a need to fund the SABCto make sure that it fulfils it public service mandate.
We will continue to work towards strengthening the capacity of our regulator to deliver on its mandate. Icasa has now streamlined its strategic goals from eight to four. This is a sign of a regulator that is focused on its mandate. An amount of R393,6 million has been allocated to Icasa during the financial year 2015-16. This amount will be used, amongst others, to ensure that local content regulations are finalised and the implementation of an efficient radio frequency spectrum management system is concluded.
In order to address the lack of access to the media by rural and historically disadvantaged communities and individuals, R22,6 million is allocated to the Media Development and Diversity Agency,MDDA. During this year, the MDDA will prioritise clearing the backlog of projects that are either no longer in existence, or have struggled to account for their support and still require assistance. The MDDA will place emphasis on strengthening existing projects, while funding new projects.
In line with our mandate to brand the country locally and internationally, R173 million has been allocated to Brand SA. I have had discussions with the board of trustees of Brand SA to focus its work on improving its domestic presence by implementing more initiatives domestically; to develop and implement initiatives aimed at branding the country on the African continent; to develop a structured programme of engagement with the national, provincial and local spheres of government in order to ensure alignment and coherence of various initiatives; and to brand the country abroad.
Together with Brand SA, we will launch an annual branding summit for South Africa during this financial year. The summit will bring together the three spheres of government, the private sector and civil society under one roof with a view to agreeing on a broad programme of action on how to brand the country. We invite the communications industry – most of whom are here today – to partner with us in this endeavour.
The FPB performs the important and critical role of regulating the production, possession and distribution of films, games and publications, including the protection of children against harmful online content. In this regard, R82,4 million has been allocated to the FPB during the 2015-16 financial year. The money will be used, amongst others, to increase the entity’s visibility through the implementation of the cyber safe outreach programme to protect children against harmful content.
We also plan to table five Bills - the Broadcasting Amendment Bill, Films and Publications Amendment Bill, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Amendment Bill, Media Development and Diversity Amendment Bill and Brand SA Bill - to Parliament.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the Deputy Minister, Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and the Portfolio Committee on Communications for the role they played in the finalisation of the strategic plan and for their continued support as we present our documents within the parliamentary processes.
To my two acting directors-general, I thank you sincerely. You have been beacons of strength and courage. You demonstrated strategic leadership, not only to the department but to the sector as a whole.
Lastly, I want to thank my family and the staff of the department for their support.
Chairperson, it is my privilege at this moment to table the Department of Communications’ Budget Vote to the House. I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms A T Didiza): Order, hon members.
I am sure a lot of you have your speakers’ list. I want to advise you on some changes. Hon Carter, who is participating here and will also be participating in another debate, will follow on the member speaking eighth, the member of the NFP. So, don’t be surprised when you see her coming up.
Ms J C MOLOI-MOROPA
THE MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS
Ms J C MOLOI-MOROPA: House Chairperson; Minister of Communications, hon Faith Muthambi; Deputy Minister, hon Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams; hon members; heads of all entities under the Communications portfolio, ladies and gentlemen, thobela. [Hello.]
I’m well aware there is also the community link at Gugulethu and ...
... ndithanda ukunibulisa lapho eGugulethu. [I would like to greet you there in Gugulethu.]
Chairperson, it is indeed a great pleasure to speak on the newly allocated Budget Vote 3 of the new Communications department which has been started and has its own Budget Vote.
We will recall that at the beginning of this 5th Parliament, President Jacob Zuma restructured the Information and Communications Technology, ICT, sector by proclaiming the formation of a new Ministry on Communications. This necessitated reconfiguration that resulted in the establishment of the two departments, namely, Communications and Telecommunications and Postal Services. Equally, the portfolio committee in Parliament had to be restructured accordingly to have committees on Communications and the Telecommunications and Postal Services.
Last year’s Budget Vote was a joint session by the two portfolio committees, which took place under the Communications Budget Vote, Vote 27, and the Government Communication and Information System, GCIS, Budget Vote, Vote 9. Now the department has its own Budget Vote and it is therefore an honour, to stand in support of the first Budget Vote of the newly constituted Department of Communications. [Applause.]
The new Department of Communications took over the following entities: The Film and Publication Board, which was housed under the Department of Home Affairs and is now under Communications. Next are Brand South Africa, the Media Development and Diversity Agency, MDDA, and the Government Communication and Information System, GCIS. You would know that the MDDA was deputising to GCIS and that Brand South Africa was in the Presidency. The SA Broadcasting Corporation, SABC, and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, are the entities more familiar with this home, as they were always housed under Communications.
After 20 years of the democratic dispensation, it became appropriate for government to closely take stock and measure the transformation agenda pertaining to the communications sector with all these entities being under one umbrella. We need to remain mindful that the department plays an important role in implementing outcome 14, which is nation-building and social cohesion.
Minister Muthambi has to be congratulated for working tirelessly in establishing and stabilising the department, while at the same time she properly aligned the entities that report to her portfolio. I usually say that if there was no department, we wouldn’t have the basis to work as the portfolio committee. Now the department is there and available. We really want to thank you that we’ve got something to oversee as the portfolio committee. [Applause.]
Apartheid excluded the majority of South Africans from accessing the communications services so fundamental to development. This committee has a key role in ensuring the self-perpetuating impact of apartheid is halted and all South Africans have affordable access to all communications platforms; are able to receive and disseminate information and opinion freely and affordably; are able to make their voices heard in national debates, and are able to do so in the languages of their own choice.
Ke ka lebaka lena he hore re le Komiti ena ya tsa Puisano, re bonang MDDA, e tlamehang ho nka bohato bo boholo ho kwala sekgeo seno se hlolehileng ho tsa thekgeniki. Ebang re ikemiseditse hore bohle setjhabeng ba kgeme le dinako, mosebetsi o bonahala o le moholo kannete. Ha jwale, batswadi ba utlwa feela bana ba bua ka di-WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, jwalojwalo; empa bona ba sa tsebe hohang hore ebe ke eng dintho tseno.
Re a tlameha ho tsamaisana mmoho le setjhaba, re ba tshedise noka ena. Ka ho bua jwalo, ke hlalosa hore MDDA e tlamehile ho ba maemong a hodimo ho finyella setjhaba ka thuto ya tsena tsohle. Motsotsong wa jwale, MDDA e bonahala e imelwa ke maoto, mme he, batla hloleha ho nka ka sekaja. Letona Muthambi, o tlamehile he, ho thusa komiti ena ka ho hleka lelapa leo. Jwaloka tlhapi, re tla kopa hore o folofele leraha, kaha metsi a ptjhele mme, le wena o a bona hle. Maloko a mararo a lefapha le ka hodimo, ke hore ditho tsa boto, a tla hatiswa ke Ntlo ya Palamente ha e dula haufinyana. (Translation of Sesotho paragraphs follows.)
[It is therefore due to this reason that, as the Communications committee, we think that the MDDA should take drastic measures to close the current gap within the field of technology. If we are indeed aiming at everyone amongst our people being up to date, then it means that there is still a lot of work to be done. At the moment, parents only hear children talking about WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and so forth, but they do not have any idea what those things are.
We must work together with the people; help them to cross this river. By this I mean the MDDA must be in a high position in order to be able to reach people, with regard to educating them about all these things. At this moment, it seems as if the MDDA is dragging its feet; therefore, it will fail to hasten the process. Minister Muthambi, you must therefore help this committee to organise itself. As the custodian, we urge you to speed this up, as matters have worsened, and you can see the situation for yourself. The three members of the upper department, I mean members of the board, will be confirmed by the National Assembly of Parliament when it resumes soon.]
When the Minister and all entities presented to the portfolio committee their annual performance plans, an indication was made that various policy amendments will be submitted to Parliament. We are eagerly awaiting that task and will ensure sufficient support to the department as part of our responsibility and mandate.
It is important that the committee prioritises these legislative amendments as a step towards streamlining the work of the department.
Firstly, these legislative amendments are intended to enable the work of the department by untangling legislative bottlenecks necessitated by the realignment of government.
Secondly, and more importantly, it is so that the department can develop enabling policies that can stimulate a robust, vibrant and competitive communications sector in line with the developmental state agenda of the governing party as outlined in the National Development Plan, NDP, and the outcome-oriented priorities.
I would like to highlight a few imperatives emanating from the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, process.
During our oversight visits, the SABC was highlighted as a priority programme that required particular attention. As members of this committee, we recognise the importance, the value and permanent role the public broadcaster has to play, particularly in the new democratic dispensation. Because of its importance, ample time is set aside by the committee in order to afford SABC a thorough oversight exercise in the forthcoming terms. We are committed to ensuring that the SABC becomes the public broadcaster it is meant to be.
The SABC’s legislative and policy framework has to be clear on its role, and those of its oversight structures, particularly in the unfolding digital environment.
The functions of Icasa have to remain an essential, constitutionally independent mechanism for the achievement of universal, affordable access to broadcasting and telecommunications services. This should remain so even under the new digital environment. I commend the outgoing chairperson of the council, Dr Stephen Mncube, who is here behind me for the critical role he played in bringing the regulator to Icasa as it currently stands.[Applause.] Thank you very much, Dr Mncube. We will remember you for that.
The ideal of a developmental state, as articulated in the 2007 Strategy and Tactics of the ANC, is dependent on the capacity of the state to intervene in the economy in the interest of sustainable development in particular. It is clear that Icasa, as the regulator, has to be structured in a manner that does not inhibit it from meeting its mandate. It is important that Icasa introduces new and practical regulatory approaches that allow it to keep pace with the evolution of the technological environment it must regulate.
We remain committed to supporting Icasa to evolve in order to handle the unprecedented challenges that go beyond the original regulatory scope, while ensuring that all sections of our society benefit from digitisation and have affordable access to ICT.
A range of factors have caused South Africa to fall behind the digital migration schedule set in 2008. Since we are heading towards the deadline, which the Minister has mentioned won’t be met, we need to ensure that we make up for the lost time and complete the digital migration process with all due speed. We need to catch up and reclaim our status as the most digitally advanced country in Africa and to limit the negative growth and developmental consequences. We can do this by rapidly introducing a comprehensive high-speed broadband communications network. It has the potential to contribute to economic growth and development, while contributing to a better life for all South Africans.
Within the communications sector itself, the impact of digital migration will be equally dramatic, with literally dozens of new television channels and, over time, radio stations too. Both will make it possible and easier to meet the statutory objectives of the broadcasting sector, ensuring a diverse range of content is available to different audiences in all languages.
It is important that we acknowledge that the pace of transformation of the media in South Africa is very slow. The policies of the governing party in this House do respect the need for editorial independence in South Africa’s media and recognise that media is not bound to report on, or agree with, everything our government does and says. However, they also recognise the need for diversity of opinion and perspective required in our media, whether print, broadcast or internet-based.
We need to embark on a national dialogue to achieve a diversity of media perspectives that accurately reflect the diversity of views in our society and ensure that events and processes are accurately, reliably and fully reported and available on platforms affordable to all South Africans.
GCIS must be strengthened so that it becomes the leader that conveys a positive, honest, accurate and reliable message of government programmes. In the light of current changes, GCIS is now a schedule 1 department headed by the Department of Communications where there is a director-general as well. We will be watching closely on this alignment ... Chairperson, we support the Budget Vote. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr G R DAVIS
Ms J C MOLOI-MOROPA:
Mr G R DAVIS: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister, hon members of this House and guests in the gallery, let me start by thanking every journalist who reports the news without fear or favour; our democracy depends on each and every one of them. Let me also thank my colleagues on the portfolio committee, especially those from the majority party. Last year, during the Ellen Tshabalala scandal, we showed that this Parliament could hold people to account, despite their links to powerful politicians, and I think we can all be proud of this achievement. [Applause.]
Our task now as hon members of this House is to hold the Minister to account for her performance over the last year. If we are honest, we will all agree that her performance has been a massive disappointment. I am sure that nobody is more disappointed in the Minister’s performance than the President. He wanted a new propaganda Ministry to clean up his government’s image, but all he got was more controversy.
Just look at what’s happened since we deliberated on this Communications Budget Vote this time last year. We’ve had an SABC board chairperson resign, because she was caught lying about her qualifications, but this was only after six damaging months of postponed hearings, court cases and other delaying tactics. We’ve had an SABC Chief Operations Officer who has been shielded and promoted when the Public Protector said he should have been fired. All I can say to Hlaudi is that I hope he has been keeping an eye on the Vincent Mdunge case. Vincent Mdunge was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison for lying about his matric. [Applause.]
We also have a Government Communication and Information System, GCIS, that is abused to promote the majority party. This includes the channelling of public money into the coffers of a government-friendly newspaper owned by the President’s friends.
And then, in a few weeks’ time, on 17 June, we face humiliation on a global scale because, on that day, we will miss the deadline set by the International Telecommunication Union to switch over from analogue to digital television.
If Minister Muthambi had not spent the last year meddling with digital migration policy and waging an obsessive turf war to control the process, we would not be in the embarrassing position we now find ourselves in. [Interjections.] It should concern all of us that the Minister wilfully misunderstands her role in relation to the SABC. She believes that the SABC is a state-owned company instead of an independent public broadcaster. She wants to take us back to the apartheid era, when the SABC was a tool in the hands of politicians, instead of a resource belonging to the people of this country. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms A T Didiza): Order, hon members! I think the dialogue is hot; you are really communicating! However, can we allow the speaker to be heard! [Interjections.] Order!
Mr G R DAVIS: This is why the Minister thinks there is nothing wrong with unilaterally seizing the powers of the SABC board even though this is in clear contravention of the Broadcasting Act. And it’s why the Minister thinks it’s okay to send independent SABC Board members threatening letters even when she has no power in law to appoint or remove them. In her budget speech last year, Minister Muthambi said that stabilising the SABC was at the very top of her agenda. I bet she regrets making that statement now. Because, since then, no less than three SABC board members have resigned, while three others have been forcibly and illegally removed. As a result, the SABC board does not have a chairperson or a quorum to legally constitute meetings.
Last year the Minister also promised that a new chief executive officer would be in place by the end of September. Nine months have passed and the post is still vacant. No wonder the SABC is in crisis, the scale of which we are only starting to see now!
I hold in my hand internal SABC financial documents recently brought to light by the Sunday Times newspaper. They show that the SABC faces a projected loss of R501 million for the financial year which has just ended on 31 March. According to SABC insiders, this loss is projected to double to R1 billion in the next financial year. So, Minister, the SABC is not on a sound financial footing, as you said in Parliament a few weeks ago. On the contrary, the SABC is facing financial ruin.
We need to fix our public broadcaster as a matter of priority, but the only way to do that is to ensure that there is less political interference on the SABC and not more. In this regard we call on the Speaker’s Office to release the legal opinion on the removal of board members: Hope Zinde, Rachel Kalidass and Ronnie Lubisi. Once we have this legal opinion, the portfolio committee can deal with the matter as we are mandated to do in the Broadcasting Act.
As a committee, we need to work together to find the most qualified and independently-minded candidates to take up positions on the board, and then they need to be left alone to do their jobs in the interest of the public we serve. These steps will go some way to get the SABC on track, but they won’t fix all that is wrong with the Communications department because the truth is that this department should never had been created in the first place.
We live in the age of convergence where traditional broadcasting is rapidly merging with new digital telecommunications technology. This is why it never made sense to create separate Communications and Telecommunications departments.
As a result of this split, we have unnecessary duplication, inherent contradictions and an overall lack of policy coherence. Let me give just one example of this. On 14 November 2014, the Telecommunications Minister gazetted the National Integrated ICT Policy Discussion Paper for public comment. An entire chapter of it is devoted to broadcasting. This includes regulation, language diversity, the funding and mandate of the SABC, and media diversity and development.
Yet, two days before this, no doubt in anticipation of the release of the ICT discussion paper, Minister Muthambi announced that she would be doing her own broadcasting policy review on precisely the same topics covered in the ICT discussion paper. [Interjections.] What a waste of time, energy and resources! [Interjections.]
Let’s be honest, in his drive to create a propaganda machine, the President has created a mess. And the great irony is that he never got the propaganda machine that he wanted! Because no Ministry this dysfunctional can never be referred to as a machine! [Interjections.] [Laughter.]
So today, I would like to offer the President a reprieve. If he quietly scraps the Communications Ministry and goes back to the old converged department, we will never mention this failed experiment again. I thank you. [Laughter.] [Applause.]
Mr M Q NDLOZI
Mr G R DAVIS
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Hon Chairperson, the EFF rejects this Budget Vote, and we do so mainly for three reasons. We shall focus on these reasons, one of which carries both philosophical and material consequences for our democracy and Constitution.
We think that, a year later, hon dear Faith Muthambi must advise the President to close this department. It has no job except to assault our democracy. [Interjections.] The department is combustion of unrelated entities: the GCIS which is about government communications, and the promotion of some perceived good story about government; then the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, the independent regulator, and the public broadcaster. This is a philosophical departure from what the Constitution anticipates about the regulator and the public broadcaster. The emphasis on independence that comes with the public broadcaster is that it imagines communication which is independent from government. In this idea of broadcasting are news and journalistic rights, films and music activities, which must attain a proper proximity distanced from power, or a healthy distance from those in power, who are in charge of selling government stories, and agendas. To bring them together is philosophical confusion.
Icasa is, most of the time, concerned with entities that are in telecommunications. In terms of its regulatory job, we can’t see how it is located under the hon Faith Muthambi’s Communications propaganda machinery. In addition, we have, long ago, called for amendments that make it a Chapter 9 institution. Instead, there are other amendments being proposed here, as opposed to strengthening Icasa to be part of the Chapter 9 institutions and report directly to Parliament.
The second crisis that comes with the creation of this department is industrial policy confusion. How is it possible that our Faith is the one responsible for digital terrestrial television, DTT, and set-top boxes, STBs? You come here and announce that millions of STBs will be distributed. Who manufactured them? Where are the factories that manufactured these STBs? Who were the workers? How many jobs have you created? How much will these workers earn? You won’t answer that because industrial policy is not located in your department. Industrial expansion is not located in your department; it is located in Telecommunications which is responsible for the overseeing of telecommunication industrial expansion. [Interjections.]
This is a demonstration that you have not understood or even worked for the advancement of the development of our productive forces and assisted so that we become self-sufficient in terms of the goods and services that we use in South Africa. Digital terrestrial television carried not only opportunities for the advancement of broadcasting capacities that will help with the dissemination of more content, but it also carried developmental possibilities. What a bunch of losers you have turned us into! [Interjections.]
We have lost a huge opportunity for industrial development. You are announcing STBs! Who produced them? And they are clapping on the other side! All the time, clapping! You know, you can’t praise a fish for swimming; it’s doing what it is supposed to do. We have no faith in you, hon Faith Muthambi, because really there is no basis for why your Ministry exists. [Interjections.] [Time expired.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms A T Didiza): Order, hon members!
Ms L L VAN DER MERWE
Mr M Q NDLOZI
Ms L L VAN DER MERWE: Hon House Chair, hon Minister Muthambi and hon Members of Parliament, as we reflect on the budget and the work of this new department and its entities, it is simply a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same.
An industry that contributes billions to our economy most certainly does not deserve this kind of confusion that has come to mar the split of the former Communications department into two new departments. But then again, South Africa does not deserve the turmoil which continues to surround the entire digital broadcasting or Digital Terrestrial Television, DTT, process. Neither do we deserve the unrelenting cost to communicate and nor does our young democracy deserve the threat of a state-controlled media tribunal.
We need to learn from history. In 1977, our government shut down two newspapers for reflecting the apartheid regime in a bad light. That was Black Wednesday. Instead of owning up to its own leadership failures, the then apartheid government simply blamed the media for exposing it. Now, fast forward to 2015, and we have seen signal jammers being brought into Parliament. And as the shameful flames of xenophobia engulfed our country, the Deputy Minister of Police launched a scathing attack on local media for the coverage of these attacks. Hon President Zuma uttered similar sentiments. We are dangerously close to repeating history.
Minister Muthambi, you are soon set to revive talks around a state-controlled media appeals tribunal. Let me tell you that the IFP will oppose such a move. The majority of South Africa’s journalists are patriotic South Africans, working hard to build our country, not to tear it down. Such a tribunal will only be a good idea if you had a North Korean Kim Jong-un style of approach to the media in mind. [Interjections.]
Understandably, the IFP’s concern remains with the SABC. It is a monument to the disaster of cadre deployment. Drastic changes to the board have brought its functions under the direct control of the hon Minister and suddenly three board members are removed. But I am not surprised by the latest instability. As a member of this committee during the Fourth Parliament, I was part and parcel of appointing a number of SABC boards.Since 1994 the ANC in Parliament has hand-picked every SABC board member and every SABC executive.
Political interference has been built into the system and ruthlessly exploited. This is exactly why nobody applies to be an SABC board member anymore. I am, however, surprised that the interference has come from a new hon Minister who always spoke truth to power in the Fourth Parliament and gave both the SABC and its executives a hard time. What has changed?
I make the following observations: Why does Mr Motsoeneng still enjoy wide political support, despite the Public Protector’s report; despite the fact that there is such low staff morale at the SABC; despite witch-hunts, and the fact that the broadcaster is again facing financial difficulties?
Is it correct to assume that Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng is still at work, in defiance of a court-imposed 60-day suspension? For who else would have tried to pull the plug on the live TV coverage of the DA congress? Why is it that the SABC, for example, attends to IFP events, yet nothing is shown on the main news channels? Is that not wasteful expenditure? And why then should IFP supporters contribute to SABC coffers, through TV licenses, if their voices are not represented?
While the SABC is seen to be a state broadcaster, while it is seen to be a mouthpiece of the ANC only and while it is not living up to its public mandate and does not treat opposition parties fairly, we cannot support this Budget Vote. South Africans deserve a Communications department and an SABC that executes its duties, and spends its budget in line with its public mandate and in the interest of every South African. I thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS
Ms L L VAN DER MERWE
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Hon Chairperson, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon Minister Muthambi of the Department of Communications, hon members, ladies and gentlemen and the members of the media, dumelang.
It was 60 years ago that 50 000 brave volunteers went out into this great land, from township to township, city to city, countryside to countryside, on a mission. Their mission was guided by a vision for a better tomorrow - a tomorrow where every African man, woman and child would have equal rights and the ability to determine their own destiny, free from persecution and systemic oppression. Their mission was for the very soul of this nation. These volunteers talked to South Africans from all walks of life, gathering their freedom demands - demands for equal rights, equal opportunities, equal access to land, to living wages, to fair labour, to education, to healthcare, to human dignity and to human potential.
These demands became the basis of the Freedom Charter. The Charter’s opening demand went on to become a rallying point and a cry for South Africa’s fight for her freedom and remains the core principle of the ANC-led government’s work to this day. That unifying cry, hon ladies and gentlemen, is ``The people shall govern!’’
Shlalo ohloniphekile, usoMqulu wamaLungelo uqhakambisa ukukwazi ukuthola ulwazi njengelungelo labantu eliqavile. [Hon Chairperson, the Bill of Rights holds access to information as the key human right.]
Prior to 1994, we experienced a broadcasting environment which was state-controlled. State broadcasting services comprised of SABC, TBVC and private services, which included Capital Radio 604 and Radio 702; as well as Radio Freedom on short wave. Through the ANC-led government, today the public broadcaster has 18 radio stations, three television stations, a 24-hour news channel and Encore channel. [Applause.]
Allow me to pause for a moment and reflect on a period which I am certain most of us assembled here have gone through. I remember the words of wisdom my father said to me when I turned 21 years old. He said:
Lifikile ixesha lokuhlola iimpazamo, iimposiso kunye nezinto eziqaqambileyo odlule kuzo ukuze uze kuthi ga ngoku. Ntinga unqandwe zinkwenkwezi ntomb’am. [This is the time to rectify your mistakes and all remarkable things that went through in your life until now. Rise; the sky is the limit, my daughter.]
The year 2015 marks 21 years of democracy under the ANC-led government. We acknowledge that, whilst much has been achieved to redress the imbalances of the apartheid system, much more needs to be done. Twenty-one years into our democratic dispensation, the ANC-led government is steadfast on this guiding principle thatthe people of South Africa shall govern.
Since our maiden Budget Vote in 2014, we have travelled the length and breadth of this country, engaging communities and the media fraternity at large on issues and the state of communications in our country and the issues that require our attention. Our people can only govern if they have access to information, and provide feedback to government; if the poor have a voice; and if independent, diverse and sustainable media is developed to foster long-term peace and stability.
His Excellency President Jacob Zuma expressed a concern with the transformation of the print media industry, noting that ownership in the print media is still dominated by the ``Big Four’’. Only 14% of the mainstream print media is in black hands, of which women participation on boards and in senior management is limited to only 4%.
We cannot rest until this situation is turned around. Robust engagements with media owners, Parliament and the public are necessary to successfully address the monopoly by media.
Through the Government Communication and Information System, GCIS, we will commence the discussion and debate around transformation within a media environment by finalising its draft discussion document titled: Towards a Policy on Media Transformation and Diversity.
Like many sectors in the communications space, media has to have its own charter. In this regard, the department will approach Parliament to consider holding an inquiry on how the print media can develop its own media transformation charter. It is only through this process that we will be able to bring about transformation and change the tide in the print media.
Community media remains an integral part of our democracy and transformation on the ground. The ANC-led government remains resolute that community media must be supported, developed and capacitated to deliver on their mandate. With over 200 licensed community radio stations and five TV stations, the sector has evolved.
In this respect, it is worth celebrating the successes of radio stations such as Radio Zibonele, a community radio station here in Khayelitsha which is doing extremely well in terms of complying with its license obligations. [Applause.] In the same breath we note the sterling work executed by Soweto TV, which currently attracts over 3,1 million viewers and employs over 100 people, of which 80% are local young people. Indeed, siyaqhuba. [We are moving forward.] [Applause.]
Noting the challenges around skills development, governance, reliance on media brokers and inadequate human resources, we will publish a community radio and television support strategy for public consultation in all nine provinces. In addition, the SABC and Media Development and Diversity Agency, MDDA, will support the community radio sector through the programme production initiative, which will again be targeting young people. In partnership with FORscene we are going to train unemployed youth, learners and teachers on online video editing software. We will also be engaging the campus radio stations across institutions of higher education in the country. Again, we will provide community radio stations with equipment and infrastructure.
Sihlalo, ukupapasha ngexanasi kuligxeke, kukwakhubaza umkhitha wokuthetha nokubhala ngokukhululekileyo kwamajelo ezendaba. Malungu ahloniphekileyo ngokweqweqwe lenkangeleko, imingeni kuMzantsi Afrika kukuzama ukuqinisa amaqhele ekumanyeni isizwe esathi sazintsalu ngemibono.(Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[Hon Chairperson, antagonistic broadcasting is a criticism. It also discourages the media from reading and writing news freely. Hon members, at face value, the challenge in South Africa is to make things possible to unite the country that has different visions.]
The recent judgments by the Press Ombudsman and the Appeals Panel led by Judge Ngoepe against the Sunday Times, Daily Dispatch, City Press and the many apologies published by these newspapers, including Business Day, confirm the deterioration of journalistic standards, continued noncompliance with the SA Press Code, and the ineffectiveness of self or co-regulation.
The revelations of a document purported to be a Daily Dispatch News Diary, which, if it is proven to be a Daily Dispatch internal document, shows and proves the well-reported media agenda against the ANC and, instead of it being media, they are playing oppositional party politics. [Interjections.] Responsible journalism requires of our media to look at itself objectively. As for government’s responsibilities, regulations and guidelines must always serve the public interest.
In moving South Africa forward, we will require extra effort in the form of development communication that is deliberately targeted towards enhancing government communication work and transforming the relationship between the citizen and the state. In this respect, our izimbizo have not only managed to increase public trust in government but also help us to better understand the communication needs and issues of greatest importance to the South African public.
We are engaging with Parliament and the judiciary in creating space for framing of conversation needed to create a coherent long-term programme for public participation about our respective roles. This approach sets the tone and founding steps for ensuring that by 2019 every South African has a clear understanding of what Parliament and the judiciary do.
Our intentions are to create a new forum for public participation in various parliamentary debates and judiciary processes. In this regard, we have invited students from the University of Cape Town, UCT, and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, CPUT, who are with us there. A shout out to all of you guys. [Applause.]
Working together with the Office of the Speaker, ...
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): Deputy Minister, you have one minute left.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Unlike the self-acclaimed prudent journalist, Mr Allister Sparks, who idolises Hendrik Verwoerd, who was a champion of crime against humanity, who presided over the hanging and torture of black people, a man who knew no other race except white ...
uphumile uhili ezingcongolweni, ingcuka eyambethe ufele lwegusha idulile. Sinijongile. [the truth has been revealed; the one who was disguised has been noticed. We are watching you.]
I am inspired by uTata Nelson Mandela who said in 1994 that freedom:
...must be understood as the transformation of the lives of ordinary people in the hostels and the ghettos; in the squatter camps; on the farms and in the mine compounds.
This is the freedom that the ANC-led government continues to strive to cultivate and nourish for the people of South Africa - freedom for transformation, a freedom of equality and diversity, a freedom of consultation and participation, a freedom of expression, and a freedom of working together to achieve more. Thank you, hon members. [Applause.]
Ms N NDONGENI
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMUNUICATIONS
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): The next speaker on our list is the hon Ndongeni from the ANC. [Applause.] Again, we will alert all members when they have a minute remaining. Thank you very much.
Ms N NDONGENI: Hon Chairperson, Minister Faith Muthambi, Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Members of Parliament, chairperson of the committee, our distinguished guests, I greet you all.
Molweni apho eGugulethu, molweni. [I greet you there in Gugulethu.]
The ANC-led government, as mandated by the 53th Mangaung conference, commits itself in continuing to mobilise the society entirely to build a caring society. We congratulate our President for prioritising communications which cuts across all departments to set up the stand-alone Department of Communications with the important mission of communicating with the public about government policies, plans, programmes and achievements.
In fulfilling its mandate, the Department of Communications has established entities such as Brand South Africa and the Films and Publication Board. Brand South Africa’s overall mandate is to build South Africa’s nation brand reputation to improve the country’s global competitiveness. It also assists South Africans in building pride and patriotism amongst themselves.
This is done to promote the investment and tourism. [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): Just hold on, hon member. Can you hold on to her time? You want to raise a matter, hon member?
Prof B BOZZOLI: Yes, Chairperson. One of the members there in the box behind the speaker is taking pictures. There is also a flash going off there.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): Can we repeat what was said by the House Chairperson - to all of us, by the way - not only to our visitors. We are not allowed to take pictures in this House. Please, let us stick to those Rules - all of us, guests and members. Thank you very much for alerting us. Continue, hon member. I hope that your time has not been wasted here. [Interjections.]
Ms N NDONGENI: This is done to promote investment and tourism those results in job creation and poverty alleviation. The Department of Communications is resourcing Brand South Africa to be able to boost business confidence in South Africa and across the world. I therefore invite all South Africans to join the campaign within Brand SA. Play your part. We must also contribute to playing our part in promoting the image of this beloved country. Together, we can do more.
I can present in front of this House that the impact of this nation branding by BSA has significantly increased between 2012 and 2013. The ANC applauds BSA for the work done so far.
Asimanga siyaqhuba. [We are hard at work.]
As a committee we also noted the performance success of Brand SA through successful partnerships with various government departments; mobilising citizens around the Play Your Part campaign; Shape the Future youth dialogue; successful hosting of the media programme at the World Economic Forum, and successful launch of the inaugural South African Competitiveness Forum. Really, South Africa is a country in action. We therefore appreciate the increase of 5,1%.
The recent xenophobic attack on foreign nationals also had a negative impact on the image of South Africa.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): Hon member, you have a minute remaining.
Ms N NDONGENI: Okay.
Brand South Africa is working hard to restore the image of South Africa through promotion of various campaigns such as ``We are Africa.’’
The people of South Africa have a right to access information and the Department of Communications has established a regulatory body which is the Film and Publication Board. The board is mandated to regulate creation, production and possession of films, games and some publications. It is done to protect both adults and children. The Film and Publication Board works closely with Home Affairs, Sars, SAPS, the Icasa and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa to fully and effectively discharge its mandate. The ANC welcomes the budget as it will enable the board to do good work for conducting public awareness among South Africans.
In line with the 52nd Polokwane conference we resolved to safeguard children and youth against negative effects...
Olu Hlahlo-lwabiwo-mali lwamkelekile kuKhongolose; siyaluxhasa. Ndiyabulela. [Kwaphelaixesha.][Kwaqhwatywa.] [The ANC welcomes this Budget Vote; we support it. Thank you.] [Time expired.][Applause.]]
Mr A M SHAIK-EMAM
Ms N NDONGENI
Mr A M SHAIK-EMAM: Hon Chairperson, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and hon members in the House, I want to start off by saying to the hon Minister and Deputy Minister and the hon members in the House, that you shouldn’t be deterred by what you hear. The easiest thing to do in the House is to sit and criticise and be armchair critics. It is very easy to do that. [Applause.] The purpose of criticising is not to find solutions but it is all about power and control- nothing but power and control.
The newly established Department of Communications has an enormous challenge ahead of it. We can expect that there will be teething problems as this department established itself. The budget of R1,2 billion is not very well distributed. We believe that, considering the importance of establishing and developing policies and legislation that it will guide the department and the entities which report to it, far more funds should have been invested in programme Two, which facilitates research and development. These capacity constraints, ultimately will determine its success in the long-term. By not investing sufficient capital in this programme now, this could well be a decision the department may come to regret in the future.
The primary concern of the NFP regarding the oversight function at the department is the thorny issue of the public broadcaster. In many ways, the newly established department has inherited a political albatross that is going to hang around for years to come.
We call on the department to act swiftly in this regard and address all challenges relating to this.
However, all is not doom and gloom. The NFP welcomes the proposed redirection of Brand South Africa, focused on the domestic and continental spheres, South Africa and Africa as a whole. It is a wide field which is opened and receptive to the branding of our country and what we have to offer.
We must admit that the department is facing challenges. However, equally, we must acknowledge the good work being done by the department, especially in marketing South Africa abroad, promoting investments, economic growth, job creation and tourism.
In light of this, the NFP supports this budget. [Applause.]
Ms D CARTER
Mr A M SHAIK EMAM
Ms D CARTER: Hon Chairperson, the Broadcasting Act is the foundation for establishing the SABC as a public broadcaster. The Companies Act therefore has to be read together with the Broadcasting Act, and not separately or independently. What is in each Act requires is careful balancing. For the Minister to assert that the Companies Act supersedes the Broadcasting Act is plainly and painfully wrong.
Cope is certain the every court up to the Constitutional Court will reject the Minister’s interpretation. If the Minister persists in playing with powers that legislation and the Constitution do not confer on her, we will have to consider testing this in a court to bring about certainty.
Things at the SABC leave us unfounded and angry. Who in his or her right mind would want to serve on the SABC, as things presently stand? I don’t think anyone would want to! There is a perennial multilevel conflict going on at the SABC. It is a toxic atmosphere to work in. We have boardroom machinations and ever-present political interference.
As the SABC loses credibility, South Africa and our democracy lose out. Who owns the SABC? All of us own the SABC, not the ANC. Who funds the SABC? The taxpayer funds the SABC, not the ANC. Then also, who pays the SABC’s license fees? The citizens of South Africa do. If the ruling party sees the SABC as its mouthpiece, and turns it into a propaganda machine as it is doing now, why should we pay for that? Why?
The SABC board must represent the people in our diversity. It must own up to us, the people. The SABC must identify with all of us so that we can identify ourselves with the SABC. The SABC has a fundamental role in providing accurate information. It must play a leading role in uplifting and transforming our society but the ANC members on that side would not want to listen because they do not want to uplift our society and our communities. [Interjections.]
Cope wants the SABC to be unfettered so that it can become a centre of excellence providing news, not creating it with the ill behaviour of the members on that side. All those who lead the SABC must distinguish themselves as champions of democracy and of our Constitution. That is what our struggle heroes fought for and died for. [Interjections.] We need you ... [Inaudible.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): Just a minute, hon member, just a minute. Colleagues and hon members, there is a difference between debating and closing a debate. Please, can we refrain from making so much noise that we cannot even hear what the speaker is saying? Please; this applies to all of us. Continue, hon member.
Ms D CARTER: Thank you for your protection, Chair.
We too must show true revolutionary credentials to achieve real transformation. We need to do so because of where we come from and where we are going. We also need revolutionary thinking because media is evolving at an alarming rate. All media ... [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): You have one minute remaining.
Ms D CARTER: Thank you, Chair.
We also need an iron-clad guarantee that the SABC cherishes freedom of expression and programming independence. Governing parties that erode this will inherit what they make. If they take away freedom today, they will lack freedom themselves when the tables are turned tomorrow, and that is soon to come. The department must not only say that it is guided by section 192 of the Constitution. It must show in every action that it provides for the genuine independence of broadcasting. [Interjections.]
Cope will not allow the ruling party to do to us what the apartheid government did to us. To quote hon Mandela – the late President Mandela: If the ANC does to you what the apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government. I thank you.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): The hon member who has just spoken is a Cope member.
Mr R M TSELI
Ms D CARTER
Mr R M TSELI: Hon House Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister, hon members, distinguished guests, ndimasiari [good afternoon]. The ANC supports Budget Vote No 3 of the Department of Communications.
The Department of Communications and the entities reporting to it continue to play their supportive role in the realisation of the government’s strategic objectives as outlined in the National Development Plan, NDP, and I would like to largely focus on the work done by the SA Broadcasting Corporation, SABC, in that regard - contrary to what hon members have said earlier on here, misleading this House.
The SABC of 2015 and beyond continues to successfully deliver on its mandate of educating, informing and entertaining through the 5 television channels and the 19 radio stations. We are proud as the ANC to have transformed it from being a monopolistic state propagandist into a modern public service broadcaster that represents the aspirations of our people.
The ANC would like to commend the SABC for the launch of two new television channels - a 24-hour news channel and the recently launched SABC Encore which will broadcast the best of the SABC’s 1980 and 1990 content - which took place last week as a result of the agreement it entered into with Multi Choice Africa.
This is indeed a strategic move and a positive development, as it responds to the ANC’s 53rd national conference on the need for a long-term sustainability strategy in addition to government funding, and it provides the broadcaster with an additional opportunity to ensure that its content is available on diverse platforms where other audiences are.
However, we continue to be worried about the state of governance of the corporation and the instability of the boards in previous years, and call upon the shareholders to attend to these issues as a matter of urgency. The Broadcasting Amendment Bill which is related to this area of work will have to be fast-tracked in that regard.
The SABC Radio, on the other hand, ensures the promotion and entrenchment of democracy through voter education, especially for those people who have never voted before. The radio continues to drive the development of home-grown artists and their music through extensive airplay, interviews, inclusion in performance line-ups at events and through annual music award ceremonies conducted by various stations. It is worth noting that it has performed above the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s minimum requirement for South African music. In line with our task of social transformation, as stated in our Strategy and Tactics of 2007, the SABC has made interventions in needy communities by donating 3 houses and a preschool in Limpopo and Mpumalanga in partnership with the J4Joy Foundation. Indeed this is a very good story to tell. [Applause.]
In response to the Freedom Charter clause of ``The people shall govern’’, the SABC executives led by the SABC Chief Operations Officer, Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, has undertaken road shows in all the provinces during the period under review where they met with stakeholders including traditional leaders. Already it has made a cash investment of R530 million in sports, of which R450 million was paid for sports rights which we are assured will increase every year following those visits.
As the ANC, we appreciate and commend the SABC for the improvement in the management of their finances - contrary to what other hon members said earlier on - which led to them moving from getting adverse audit opinion findings in previous years to a qualified audit opinion. However, a lot still needs to be done to ensure that they get an unqualified opinion in the next financial year. The balance sheet is relatively robust with a net asset positioning of R1,9 billion. We support measures being put in place to address audit matters like the review of the procurement strategy, dedicating a resource on the findings of performance reports and a strategy to track fruitless, wasteful and irregular expenditure.
Regarding skills development, the SABC has initiated a skills programme project that is targeting young people, particularly women and people with disabilities. The project is aligned to the outcome of the National Development Plan, NDP. This project will go a long way in empowering the target group to enable them to participate in the production of local content and is funded by the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority, MICT Seta, on an annual basis.
We appreciate the transformation measures introduced by the SABC under the capable leadership of the COO that led to the appointment of five females, as the Minister has reported. We thank the visional leadership of the CEO, Mr Motsoeneng, and the collective for turning the SABC around, making it a real independent public broadcaster that represents the aspirations of our people. For the public broadcaster to effectively deliver on its mandate, we call on all our people to pay for their TV licences.
Hon Minister, if you can concretise and implement what we recommended - that there be a forum of entities reporting to the department - surely we will definitely go a long way. We will have to call upon the shareholders to ensure that we intensify our oversight over the entities to ensure that they execute their mandates ... [Inaudible.] ... government targets. The ANC supports the Budget Vote. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Prof L R MBINDA
Mr R M TSELI
Prof L R MBINDA: Hon Chair, hon members as well as Africans at large, the Department of Communications is supposed to provide society with balanced information that assists the nation to make up its mind. As the PAC, we view this department as not understanding its own mandate. Its mandate is not just limited to be the current government’s mouthpiece but it is supposed to be the national mouthpiece. Therefore, the qualities of the personnel that man this agency are very critical to the success of this nation and Brand South Africa.
The Government Communication and Information Services, GCIS, has not taken its position as the primary conveyer of national information. Critical documents like the Public Protector’s report and the Auditor-General’s report remain accessible to the elite only. They have not been made accessible to the society as a whole because GCIS only wants to give good news. It does not want to give the whole news ... [Interjections.] It is English, not isiXhosa. I am isiXhosa-speaking. It has become a propaganda machine rather than providing access to information.
The public broadcaster, SABC, is failing the people, selling what was paid for by the public at a very low premium. The PAC believes that the content of the SABC is more western in its orientation, dominated by westernisation. The only things that are African are the actors and locations. The SABC promised to beef up its programmes to be more local, with an African content conveying family values and an African agenda.
The community radio stations have done a sterling job in bringing vibrancy to the community to share their own stories. Nevertheless, we are concerned about the funding model. We cannot realistically expect high quality production without the state assisting the community radio stations. However, this should be done in a manner that does not force them to suck up to the government of the day. The funding should be a right rather than a privilege.
Regarding private broadcasters, with the digital technology present, it gives us a greater spectrum for new players to come on board. We call on the department to give greater access to more players in terms of broadcasting and to reduce the barriers of entry to the industry. That will diversify the voices that are available in our social discourse and provide a space for young artists to express themselves.
The much talked-about deal between the SABC and Multichoice is also of concern to the PAC. We just see this as another way for Multichoice to have monopoly and therefore control what we see, when we see it and who sees it. The SABC will no longer cater for the South African viewer, but it will have to cater for the DSTV audience.
As the PAC we are concerned that the department keeps on changing its mind on the hardware and software standards which makes certain elements not to be competitive. As the PAC we are calling for those set-top boxes to be made in Africa, not outside Africa,because of the amount of budget that will be spent on the project and also because of the amount of future technology skills that we must preserve.
If it was my choice, I would only support the budget for the sake of the radio communities, and not for the SABC because the SABC is suppressing opposition parties. It is just a mouthpiece of the ruling party.
Izwe lethu. [Our land.]
Mr M D KEKANA
Mr L R MBINDA
Mr M D KEKANA: Chairperson; hon Minister, MsMuthambi; hon Deputy Minister, MsNdabeni-Abrahams; hon members; comrades; ladies and gentlemen, we continue to note the efforts of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, in helping government reduce the costs of doing business in South Africa for economic development and job creation purposes. In promoting the digital agenda, we expect Icasa to accelerate its focus on creating an environment conducive to universal broadband provision and digital broadcasting services.
Icasa’s efforts to contribute to media diversity and its transformation should be encouraged. The licensing of new commercial broadcasters should continue as planned so that the reality of plenty of channels due to digital migration are realised and BBBEE principles observed during this licensing process.
The ANC is encouraged by the work synergies that are beginning to emerge between the Media Development and Diversity Agency, MDDA, Icasa, Sentech, the Government Communication and Information System, GCIS, and the Department of Communications in supporting community media and addressing the related challenges. For the past two years, these institutions have been going across the nine provinces, addressing the concerns and challenges facing the community media sector.
The second decade of existence of the MDDA has started with exciting developments in the media industry. The sector is at the advent of the switchover from analogue to digital and a review of the Electronic Communications Act is under way. Therefore, the MDDA must be more active in the sector, playing a stronger lobbying and advocacy role on the many issues facing the community sector.
The MDDA continues to be the largest contributor to enabling access to and control and management of the sector by historically disadvantaged individuals. The last decade saw the MDDA changing the media landscape quite considerably. Of the estimated 207 community radio stations in existence, 135 were and some 84 are still funded by the MDDA. More than ever before, all the languages of South Africa are being actively used to communicate to and engage with communities. The MDDA has invested significantly in the purchase of world-class radio equipment, enabling quality productions.
In less than 10 years since the first one-year licence was granted in South Africa to a community TV station, this sector has grown into a resilient industry. The MDDA has supported four stations, of which two are still being supported.
Similarly, the community and small commercial print sector has grown significantly in recent years, with South Africa now boasting more than 200 small publishers, a large proportion of which are publishing in an indigenous language. The MDDA has funded in total some 53 community print projects, with 26 of these currently being funded, and 93 small commercial print projects, with 31 still being funded. The community landscape can be largely attributed to this investment made by the MDDA.
It is also true that the MDDA faces formidable challenges. It has not been sufficiently proactive in certain areas in responding to the fast-paced changes in the media and broadcasting landscape. This has impacted negatively on the MDDA’s ability to lead the discussions and champion what is necessary for the sector. The organisation has also experienced some instability with the change in internal leadership and management. The MDDA recognises and has taken ownership of these challenges and, as a result, the organisation is steadily gaining momentum in regaining its position as a leader for change and innovation in the sector.
The ANC welcomes the efforts by the Portfolio Committee on Communications that has continuously tried to fill the vacancies on the board of the Media Development and Diversity Agency. We reiterate the importance of integrity, nurturing and the safeguarding of the MDDA that has been facing a staff and board exodus.
Now that the board of MDDA will quorate, we encourage them to speedily allocate the much-needed funding to the community media, especially to their equipment infrastructure and operational capital that has assisted many of them to stay afloat. Let that which has occurred over the last few months at the MDDA not happen again. We are happy that the representatives of the industry have forwarded their names, for the board to begin operating once they have been officially appointed.
Minister, I also want to congratulate the management of the SABC, led by the COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and the board for launching the entertainment channel, SABC Encore, and for their healthy capital status. I am appealing to South Africans to pay their TV licences. Encore. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms V VAN DYK
Mr M D KEKAKNA
Ms V VAN DYK: Agb Voorsitter, lede van die Huis, media-entiteite se grootste probleem is menslike hulpbronne. Volgens BrandSA, dra die inligting- en kommunikasiesektor 8,2% by tot die land se bruto binnelandse produk, BBP. Suid-Afrikaanse kommunikasie sleur egter in terme van duidelike beleidsontwikkeling en digitale migrasie. Hoekom?
Behalwe sewe Ministers in ses jaar, sal besluite deur Minister Muthambi en haar media-opleiding teen R12 000 per sessie, ten spyte, definitief hierdie koers afwaarts dwing.
Integrasie of mediasamesmelting vorm die kern van die digitale mediarewolusie en vereis dat die komitees op kommunikasie en telekommunikasie, wetgewing deel en moet saamwerk. Die verdeling belemmer produktiwiteit en gaan ’n ekstra geprojekteerde R735 miljoen oor twee jaar kos.
Die Film-enPublikasieraad is onder druk om aanvaarbare regulasies in plek te kry rondom internet en selfone. Met Right2Know wat in hul nekke blaas is mediavryheid verder onder druk. Terwyl die regering in ontkenning is rondom Eskom, diensleweringsbetogings, xenofobia en ook die krisis waarin die Suid-Afrikaanse ekonomie is, is dit te betwyfel of BrandSA met hierdie negatiwiteite en streng visa-regulasies hul 60% buitelandse toeristemark sal kan herbou. Dit is te betwyfel selfs al spandeer hulle ook soos die premierskantoor in die Noord-Kaap, R6 miljoen aan TheNew Age Gupta-beheerde koerant, om ’n mislukte 70% goeie storiesveldtog te dryf.
Probleme in die entiteite herlei na ’n gemene deler - menslike hulpbronne, byvoorbeeld: vakatures, veral op seniorvlak lei tot onstabiliteit; kundigheid en goeie bestuurspraktyke word ingeboet, veral op finansiële terrein; posisies neem lank om gevul te word; voortdurende advertensiekostes is duur; prestasieooreenkomste word nie geteken nie en daar is dus geen verantwoordbaarheid nie; projekteikens word nie bereik nie; die meeste doelwitte is nie meetbaar nie; daar is ’n toename in vrugtelose en verkwistende uitgawes; daar is gebrekkige opleiding; monitering ontbreek; die belangrikste - daar is geen gevolge vir nie-prestering nie, selfs nie vir die Ministers nie, blyk dit!
Sedert 2007 het die SAUK agt hoofuitvoerende beamptes gehad. Die onlangse Ouditeurs-Generaal se verslag fokus, veral op die SAUK, met verwysings na die gebruik van konsultante. Dit is ’n refleksie op die interne personeel se onbevoegdheid. Die Onafhanklike Kommunikasie-owerheid van Suid-Afrika,Okosa, het byvoorbeeld R9 miljoen aan personeelbonusse betaal en R26,9 miljoen aan konsultante.
Die effek van kaderontplooiing is verder duidelik. Ek verwys na Tshabalala en Motsoeneng. Laasgenoemde se somme klop nêrens nie en illustreer hoekom dit belangrik is om gekwalifiseerde persone in sleutelposisies van ’n maatskappy te plaas en dat swart bemagtiging nie net tot voordeel van ’n selektiewe groep ANC-kaders behoort te wees nie.
Begrotingsbeperkinge in ag genome, verdien die Media Diversiteits Ontwikkelings Agentskap, MDOA, steun vir suksesvolle gemeenskapsmediaprojekte. Wat egter kommerwekkend is, is dat hul 2013-14 jaarverslag laat was, ten spyte van ’n skoon ouditverslag. Die hoogste vakatures, onlangs, van 28,1% of 13 uit 24 poste, verifieerpersoneelskrywesinterne probleme. Die ouditfunksie moes uitgekontrakteur word en die raad sonder kworum, soos die SAUK, ervaar operasionele probleme. Slegs 31% prestasieteikens is bereik. Oorsigkomitees funksioneer nie doeltreffend nie. Slegs 30% van die projekte is gemonitor. Befondsde programme het afgeneem, asook opleidingsprojekte. Soortgelyke probleme word deursnee in ander media-entiteiteervaar.
Net 46% van die Suid-Afrikaanse bevolking het internettoegang. Die My Distrik bylae van die regering se kommunikasie- en inligtingdiens, GCIS, met ’n databasis van 10 000, gaan dus verlore vir die teikenmark. Slegs 1,4 miljoen kopië van die regeringskoerant Vukuzenzele, word per maand gedruk vir 52 miljoen landsburgers om te deel. Kommunikasie na gemeenskappe is nie doeltreffend nie. Beplanning en assessering bly agterweë. Dit is deel van personeelfunksies.
Gemeenskapsradio bereik tans net 25% van gehore, terwyl SAUK radiostasies 80% bereik. Die DA bevraagteken die gebrek aan taaldiversiteit. Nasionale uitsenders, SAFM en Radio 2000, is beide in Engels en behoort ’n inheemse taal te akkommodeer. Die SAUK-tendens·beperk inheemse tale en bevoordeel Engels. Dit is strydig met uitsaaiwetgewing. MDOA neem met kommer waar dat selfs gemeenskapsmedia verengels.
Hoe vervul Okosa, wat nie ’n verbruikersadviespaneel in plek het nie, met 59% prestasiedoelwitte nie bereik nie, hul rol in hierdie verband? Dat 80% van Okosa se personeel hande opgesteek het tydens ’n onlangse oorsigkomitee besoek, op ’n vraag wie die afgelope maand gedink het om te bedank, behoort rooiligte ook hier te laat flikker.
Entiteite moet die oorsprong van probleme aanspreek en eerder belê in doeltreffende menslike hulpbronne. Menslike kapitaal vorm die kern van die ekonomie. Dankie. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans speech follows.)
[Ms V VAN DYK: Hon Chairperson, members of the House, media entities’ biggest problem is human resources. According to BrandSA, the information and communication sector contributes 8,2% to the country’s gross domestic product, GDP. However, South Africa’s communication is lagging in terms of clear policy development and digital migration. Why?
Apart from seven Ministers in six years, decisions by Minister Muthambi and her media training at R12 000 per session will definitely force this rate to decrease.
The integration of media mergers form the core of the digital media revolution and require that committees on communication and telecommunications have to share legislation and that they have to work together. This distribution hampers productivity and will cost an additional projected R735 million over two years.
The Film and Publication Board is under pressure to implement acceptable regulations regarding the internet and cellphones. With Right2Know breathing down their necks, media freedom is under even more pressure.
Whilst government is in denial about Eskom, service delivery protests and xenophobia as well as the crisis surrounding South Africa’s economy, it is doubtful whether BrandSA will be able to rebuild its 60% foreign tourism market. It is doubtful even if, like the Office of the Premier in the Northern Cape, it spends R6 million on The New Age Gupta-managed newspaper, to drive a failed 70% good story-campaign.
Problems in these entities are reduced to a common denominator - human resources, for example: vacancies, especially at senior level, leads to instability; experience and good management practices are sacrificed, especially on financial terrain; positions take long to be filled; constant advertising costs are expensive; performance agreements are not signed and therefore there is no accountability; project goals are not achieved; most of the goals cannot be measured; there is an increase in fruitless and wasteful expenditure; there is a lack of training; monitoring is lacking; and - most importantly - there are no consequences for non-performance, not even for the Ministers, it seems!
The SABC has had eight chief executive officers since 2007. The recent report by the Auditor Generals focuses especially on the SABC, with references to the use of consultants. This is a reflection of the internal staff’s incompetence. For example, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, paid R9 million for personnel bonuses and R26,9 million to consultants.
The effect of cadre deployment is also clear. I refer to Tshabalala and Motsoeneng. The latter’s sums do not add up and illustrates why it is important to appoint qualified persons in key positions in a company, and that black empowerment should not only benefit a select group of ANC cadres.
Budget limitations considered, the Media Development and Diversity Agency, MDDA, deserves support for successful community projects. However, it is concerning that their annual report for 2013-14 was late, despite a clean audit report. The latest highest vacancies of 28,1% or 13 out of 24 positions verify internal problems. The auditing function had to be outsourced and the board without quorum is experiencing operational problems, just like the SABC. Only 13% of performance targets were achieved. Oversight committees are not functioning effectively. Only 30% of the projects are monitored. Financed programmes have declined, as well as training projects. Similar problems are experienced across the board in other media entities.
Only 46% of the South African population has access to the internet. Consequently, the My Distriksupplement of the Government Communication and Information Service, GCIS, with a database of 10 000, is lost to the target market. Only 1,4 million copies of the government newspaper, Vukuzenzele, are printed for 52 million citizens to share. Communication to communities is not efficient. Planning and assessments are overlooked. It forms part of staff functions.
Community radio currently only reaches 25% of audiences, whilst SABC radio stations reach 80%. The DA questions the lack of language diversity. National broadcasters SAFM and Radio 2000 are both in English and ought to accommodate an indigenous language. The SABC’s tendency limits indigenous languages and benefit English. This is contrary to broadcasting legislation. The MDDA notes with concern that even community media is being anglicised.
How does Icasa, which does not have a consumer advisory panel in place, and with 59% of performance goals that have not been achieved, fulfil its role in this regard? The fact that 80% of Icasa staff put their hands up when asked this month whom of them is considering resigning should set off alarm bells in this regard.
Entities should address the origin of the problems and rather invest in effective human resources. Human capital is the core of the economy. Thank you. [Applause.]]
Ms D R TSOTETSI
Ms V VAN DYK
Ms D R TSOTETSI: Ke isa hlompho ho wena, Modulasetulo, Letona le Motlatsi wa letona, maloko a Palamente ka kakaretso le baeti ba rona, le ba diphatlalatso ba teng kwano. [Thank you, Chairperson, Minister and Deputy Minister, Members of Parliament in general and our guests, as well as the media present here.]
I would like to start by announcing that the ANC supports the budget. This budget will ensure capacity is nurtured in order for the Government Communication and Information System,GCIS, to increase its pace in dissemination of information in relation to government business.
Sesotho se re, setjhaba se senang tsebo se a timela. [In Sesotho we say that a nation that does not have knowledge is doomed.]
We say knowledge is power and the ANC-led government will always exhaust all avenues to empower people with skills and knowledge and, of course, strategies to utilize this knowledge.
The GCIS has produced a journal namelyVukuzenzele which includes adverts for jobs. These are jobs for all and not like the JobReservations Act, which discriminated against black people deliberately, creating tension between black people, coloureds and Indians. A divide-and-rule policy ensured white supremacy. However, we are going to be consistent with the Freedom Charter and ensure that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white. We believe two wrongs do not make a right.
As we talk service delivery by GCIS, and of course service delivery in general, let us remind the people of South Africa that we are dealing with a mess, which was done over more than 100 years. Any normal-thinking person will tell you that it is practically impossible to undo the mess in only 20 years; even worse, the manufacturer of the mess seems not prepared to co-operate with the ANC government in cleaning up the mess. They keep on changing strategies, pretending to be born-again Christians but their actions are the opposite of what they preach.
Baheso, re a tseba Afrika Borwa e sentswe ka dilemolemo tse ngata tse fetang lekgolo, kahoo ha ho bonolo ho lokisa ka dilengwana tse 20, empa le lokolohile hoipelaetsa moo le bonang eka re a kgetsemela. Mmuso oo le ikgethetseng ona o a le dumella kaha ele mmuso wa setjhaba ka setjhaba.(Translation of Sesotho paragraph follows)
[Fellow South Africans, we know that South Africa was destroyed in more than a century, so it is not possible to fix everything in just 20 years, but you are more than welcome to criticize where you believe that we are not doing things right. The government you have chosen allows you to do so because it is a government of the people by the people.]
The ANC holds that in the context of the national democratic revolution, NDR, the media should contribute to the transformation of our country. Building social cohesion and promoting the values of a caring society are an essential part of the battle of ideas and must underpin and inform the manner in which the media operates. The accountability and fairness of reporting are central to the gains of the NDR.
Communications is central to the implementation of all the policy priorities of the ANC government. All programmes need to be communicated and need platforms of communication. The GCIS should be in charge of all communication channels and platforms in all government departments and across all spheres of government in order to co-ordinate information flow to the public.
In view of the advent of digitisation and new media, government needs to investigate possible options of unmediated government communication systems. The new opportunities provide a paradigm shift in government communications.
The GCIS mandate has been, since its establishment, to serve as the central communications agency of a relatively new democratic government leading the reconstruction and development of post-apartheid South Africa. A government communication system that mobilises the nation behind the National Development Plan, showcases progress and invites South Africans to work together to address challenges is critical to the achievement of Vision 2030.
This is an organisation responsible for informing all citizens of our country about what government is doing for them and how they can participate in the governance and consolidation of our democracy.
The GCIS has had its share of challenges, but timeous interventions have resulted in the achievement of the desired positive outcomes. The transformation of the re-establishment of the GCIS is still a work in progress. The advances made so far in fostering a stable communication framework have demonstrated the determination to succeed in future.
The GCIS has the task of ensuring that the strategic imperatives report is fully implemented, but some of the programmes were not fully funded. This is ongoing work to establish how these programmes could be fully funded. Government communication takes place largely at the three levels: Print media, broadcasting and face-to-face engagement with citizens through programmes such as the izimbizo and various public participation platforms.
Going forward what has informed the department’s strategic plans are the governance challenges of state-owned entities, the delayed digital migration project, and inadequate communication of government programmes and plans. The department was actively involved in making communication recommendations in the National School Nutrition Programme, the repatriation of the mortal remains of the those who perished in the building that collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria, Operation Phakisa and nuclear energy to name a few.
The department produced comprehensive cluster research reports to guide planning and inform communication strategies of government communication clusters. They were made available bi-annually and addressed key cluster-specific outcomes. Communication research advice and support was provided to various government role-players through Tracker and National Qualitative research buy-in. Ninety-three research advisory reports for various national departments and premiers’ offices were produced.
Let me seize the opportunity to talk just briefly about the prophetic words of Lester Venter in his book titled ``When Mandela goes’’.The National Party, DA if you like, will retain a core support from whites who have grown accustomed to politics without morality, who believe that the National Party should be chosen as a sensible alternative to the ANC once voters sober up from the intoxicating emotionalism of black liberation. The party itself entertains delusory notions of attracting mass black support, perhaps even under a charismatic black leader once ANC policies are perceived to have failed.
But while apartheid remains a living memory, nothing of the sort will happen.
No persons of distinction or credibility in black society could join the National Party and retain their status. Please notice the name change from National Party to DA. Workers will tell you to change the colour of the bus ...
Ms N W A MAZZONE: Chairperson, I rise on a point f order in terms of Rule 43 on offensive language. The DA takes it as offensive to be referred to as the National Party and the member should note that the National Party members that were in this House now sit in the ANC benches, Chairperson. [Applause.]
Ms D R TSOTETSI: Chairperson, I’m quoting from the book that was neither written by the ANC, nor by me.
No persons of distinction or credibility in black society could join the National Party and retain their status. Please notice the name change from National Party to DA. Workers will tell you change colour of the bus but the same driver, same destination.
Yes, it is happening just here under our nose. Some of them were saying ``The Black government over my dead body’’; not a dream but we are indeed under the rule of a black government which embraces the Bill of Rights for all in the country and nonracialism. This is a democratic South Africa, not over their dead bodies but over their living bodies, and we are here to stay.
The GCIS has produced a journal Vukuzenzele which plays a major role in the dissemination of information. It excels by also putting job adverts in addition to information on daily government business. Vukuzenzele also reaches Thusong centres in rural areas. This is consistent with rural development being one of government’s priorities.
During the current Budget Votes speeches, the media has been covering the events, in addition ... [Interjections.]
Ntate Hlaudi Motsoeneng le moifo wa hao, ekare o ka kgutlisa pale yane ya Morwa Monatong,are o tla fumana motho a rwetse hlooho e kgolo e kana empa boko ba hae bo le bonyane bo sa felle kahara kgaba e nyane. [Mahofi.] Dilemong tsena tse 20 tseo re di badileng, ha ho na ntho eo re ka e etsang ka potlako eo ba nahanang hore re ka e etsa ka yona. Seo nka se etsang ke ho dumellana le mantswe a reng: re ya pele,siyaqhuba. Ha o tjha otjhetjhe.(Translation of Sesotho paragraph follows)
[I wish Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his team could bring back the story of Morwa Monatong, who always said that there are people who have big heads but small brains that would not even fit in a small spoon. [Applause.] In the 20 years that we have counted, nothing that we do will ever be quick enough for them. All I can do is to agree with the words that say: we are moving forward, siyaqhuba. If you cannot handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.]
The journalists are reporting fair and square when they report negatively about the ANC, but if they talk about the DA, that’s when we think they are being unfair. Many times corruption by the DA has been echoed in this Parliament. It is not hon Davis who dealt with the case of Ms Tshabalala, but the Communications Committee as a collective, under the good leadership of hon Joyce Moloi-Moropa. Well done, chairperson!
Hon Muthambi has never been a privileged participant under the apartheid era as you claimed, but was a direct product of that era. It does not look like she will change or repentany time soon. Some people fail to get what they want ... [Interjections.] They work for the crowd. Through all these things, we support the Budget Vote. [Applause.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): Hon members, the allocated time for the response by the Minister was five minutes, but she only used twenty-two minutes of her time during her initial input. Therefore, she has eight minutes. [Applause.] Minister, your response to the debate.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS
Ms D R TSOTETSI
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Hon Chairperson, I will start by welcoming the contribution made by the NFP. We agree with the views expressed by the NFP. We want more parties like the NFP in this Parliament. They are playing their part in taking the country forward. On that note also, let me tell you, hon members on my left, that the Department of Communications, DOC, will continue to take bold decisions to ensure that government’s message is communicated to empower the citizens, particularly the poor, without fear or favour.
On the issue raised by the shadow Minister, hon Davis, with regard to the The New Age, TNA, allegations, government is not going to apologise for supporting media diversity and transformation by directing its advertising to media that speaks to the majority of South Africans who are currently not served by the established media. So, we are not going to apologise on that front.
Advertising support has ensured the sustainability of 200 community radio stations, and other small print media, allowing these important channels to ensure that communities are well informed about the work of government and are participating in our democracy.
Hon Davis, the Government Communication and Information System, GCIS, has released figures showing that media spend is fair across all media platforms. It is a total fabrication that more money is spent on The New Age.
On a different note, the SABC will continue its role as a public broadcaster, and our role is to champion that role. We have a responsibility to oversee that the SABC is stable. You also agree that SABC vacancies are being careful considered. We have reported that, for the first time, the SABC News 3 has recorded the appointment of female executives, but then you said nothing about it.
On the new department, the President did not say that he is establishing a propaganda department. I urge you to get your facts right and read the proclamation. We have also submitted the strategic plans and annual performance plan, APP, to the portfolio committee and we have cleared what the purpose is of this department. The purpose of this department ... Maybe I should repeat it for the benefit of other members who are not members of the portfolio committee, like hon Liezl van der Merwe.
The purpose of this new department is to empower our people, and I know it will never suit the DA. We don’t expect the DA to understand it in that respect. I want to also emphasise that the issue of digital migration is on track for the first time in many years. This process didn’t start after my appointment as a Minister in 2014. We have been dealing with this matter since 2001. For the first time in many years, our people will soon reap the fruit of this progress.
Yes, there were delays, but there is good progress that you are all refusing to acknowledge, and we have made it to that effect. [Applause.]
With regard to my learned colleague hon Ndlozi, there is no philosophical confusion here. We will use all the entities under our watch to empower our people. It is a matter that is not negotiable, hon Ndlozi.
One other thing to note is that government is not indivisible. There is nothing wrong with cross-cutting responsibilities to empower our people.
On the question of production of set top boxes ... You will agree with me that that was a public tender which was open and transparent, which Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa, USAASA, is dealing with.
And then, with regard to my former colleague in the portfolio committee hon van der Merwe, I see that you are not a member of that committee anymore. I want to say to you that the agenda is to carry forward what we will have as the fourth administration. This is what I am doing now. I am implementing that agenda, which you and I set while we were at the portfolio committee.
I also want to address you, hon van der Merwe, on the issue of the dialogue on how media can be regulated, and you are putting a myth about that a dialogue on how media can be regulated is an assault on media freedom. It’s not only the ANC that participated in the press commission. Everybody participated in that, and there are recommendations of the press commission that need to be implemented. It is a pity it is this portfolio, together with the Portfolio Committee on Communications, that must implement the recommendations of the press commission.
Then on the issue of the SABC because people seem to be so obsessed with the SABC ... [Interjections.]... the SABC is not the mouthpiece of the ANC. [Interjections.] It has been proved many times. [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): Sorry, hon Minister. Colleagues, again, can we repeat? We can indeed interject, but let’s not interject in a manner that means all of us cannot hear the speaker, please.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: I was still on the point that the SABC is not a mouthpiece of the ANC. It has proved many times that it has a platform for all South Africans, including the opposition that has nothing positive to say. [Interjections.] You see, it has proven that it is inclusive in that it also includes your position. That has got nothing to say about the country, including the ANC itself. To receive more coverage, hon members, I want to advise you. You must win more elections and get more votes, and then it will be simple. [Interjections.] Then you will be able to have more coverage.
With regard to the issue raised by Cope, the recent viewership figures show increased credibility amongst our people. [Interjections.]
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Hon Chairperson.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Numbers don’t lie. So, please ...
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Hon Chairperson.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): Minister, just hold on. On what point are you rising?
Mr M Q NDLOZI: I just wanted, through you, to ask the Minister, - because I appreciate the top she is wearing - where she bought it?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): What are you rising on, hon Ndlozi? [Interjections.]
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Maybe she can tell me where to go and buy the same top. It’s very ... [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): Hon Ndlozi, can you sit down! Thank you very much. [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Hon Ndlozi... [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): Hon Carter, what are you rising on?
Ms D CARTER: Hon Chair, is the Minister prepared to take a question? [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: I am coming to you hon, Carter.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): She is closing the debate. So, let’s allow her to close the debate. At any rate, let’s ask her. Are you prepared to take a question, Minister?
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: No! I am closing the debate. [Interjections.] Thank you.
Hon Carter, I am not here to make a legal submission - that includes hon Davis - save to say that the SABC is governed by the following legal instruments, namely, the Companies Act, Broadcasting Act,the Memorandum of Incorporation as registered by former Minister Pule and the board charter.
Hon Ndlozi, your argument on industrialisation is misplaced. We look beyond policy-making to ensure that we create industries that support our national industrial policy. The process to acquire set top boxes, like I have indicated, is going to happen via a local supplier. For your information, we have got more than 20 local suppliers that have responded to the Request for Proposals, RFPs, issued by Usaasa.
And then, with regard to the issues raised by the DA and also hon van der Merwe, in 2009, the cash equivalent of the SABC then was R15 million.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): Just round up, Minister!
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: So, for now, as we speak, it is R1,20 billion.. The document that hon Davis referred to is a sign that he is busy meddling with the SABC, because he knows how he got it - in an unethical manner, and illegally so. He is accusing us of meddling but it is him who is causing the problems in the SABC. You are meddling with the affairs of the SABC. [Interjections.]
Hon Chairperson, I hereby commend the Department of Communications, DOC, Budget Vote to the House. Thank you so much. [Applause.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr J M Mthembu): Thank you.
Colleagues and hon members, including our guests in the gallery, we have two debates that will be resuming now. The debate on the Sports and Recreation Budget Vote will be here in this House, and the debate on the Small Business Development Vote will be in the National Assembly. They are all resuming now at 17:00.
The Committee rose at 17:03.
No related documents