ATC130507: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Communications on its deliberations on the Budget Vote 9: Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), and Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), dated 7 May 2013.

Communications

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Communications on its deliberations on the Budget Vote 9: Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), and Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), dated 7 May 2013

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Communications on its deliberations on the Budget Vote 9: Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), and Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), dated 7 May 2013.

The Portfolio Committee on Communications, having considered the Strategic Plans and Budges of GCIS and the MDDA, reports as follows:

1. Introduction

Section 55 (2) of The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, states that the National Assembly must provide for mechanisms (a) to ensure that all executive organs of state in the national sphere of government are accountable to it; and (b) to maintain oversight of (i) the exercise of national executive authority including the implementation of legislation; and (ii) any organ of state. In terms of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999, the Accounting Officers must provide Parliament or the relevant legislature with their respective institution’s medium-term strategic plan and where applicable with its annual performance.

The Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act was promulgated in 2009, by which it vests powers to Parliament to reject or recommend budgets of departments, it also makes provision for the implementation of recommendations emanating from the committee’s oversight.

The capacity to communicate effectively with constituents is a fundamental function of modern governance. A key aspect of governance is how citizens, leaders and public institutions relate to each other in order to make change happen. Without communication structures and processes which enable the two-way exchange of information between state and citizens, it is difficult to imagine how states can be responsive to public needs and expectations. Crucially, two-way communication allows citizens to monitor the states’ activities, to enter into dialogue with the state on issues that matter to them, and to influence political outcomes.

The Minister in The Presidency: Performance Monitoring, Evaluation and Administration, Mr Collins Chabane, who is also the Executive Authority noted in the department’s 2010/11 Annual Report said: “ co mmunication has become service delivery itself; providing for information for action, that people can use to access services that will improve their lives. Communication now stands as a central support to the visible implementation of our Programme of Action. ” The aim of the report is to provide an overview of the 2013/14 Strategic Plan of the Department. This done, notwithstanding the fact that the Department has not tabled an updated Strategic Plan, the Department has however tabled an updated Annual Performance Plan for 2013/14 financial year on 13 March 2013. The Committee held briefings with GCIS and MDDA on 15 March 2013.

1.1 Analysis of the 2013/14 Strategic Plan: Programme Structure Trends

During the past three financial years up to 2009/10, the department was organised into eight programmes: (i) Programme 1: Administration; (ii) Programme 2: Policy and Research; (iii) Programme 3: Government and Media Liaison; (iv) Programme 4: Provincial Coordination and Programme Support; (v) Programme 5: Communication Service Agency: (vi) Programme 6: International Marketing and Media Development; (vii) Programme 7: Government Publication; and (viii) Programme 8: Communication Resource Centre.

During the 2011/12 Strategic Plan, following an internal organisational review, the Department reviewed its structure into three key core programmes namely; (i) Programme 1: Administration; (ii) Programme 2: Communication and Content Management; and (iii) Programme 3: Government and Stakeholder Engagement.

Towards the fourth quarter of the 2012/13 financial year, the Department reviewed its programmes from three programmes to four programmes and this necessitated alterations to the names of two of the programmes as follows: (i) Programme 1: Administration – remains unchanged; (ii) Programme 2: Communication and Content Management; is now Content Processing and Dissemination; (iii) Programme 3: Government and Stakeholder Engagement; is now Intergovernmental Coordination and Stakeholder Management; and (iv) Programme 4: Communication Service Agency – remains unchanged.

Oversight visits conducted by the Committee in 2012/13 to the North West, Gauteng and a follow-up visit to the Eastern Cape remained an important tool to measure service delivery in practice toward requisite budget allocations. The transformation of print media Indaba held in Gauteng in June 2012 also assisted the Committee to respond to issues emanating from the above-cited oversight visits.

2. Government Communications and Information System ( GCIS) – R396 700 000

The GCIS Acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Phumla Williams presented an overview of the Strategic Plan of the Government Communication Information System. She explained that GCIS engages in communication as service delivery, as communication is critical pivot in mobilising all sectors of society in the realisation of the National Development Plan. The part of this mobilisation effort is a focus on the achievements of government and the society as a whole during the first two decades of freedom and democracy.

The fight against poverty and unemployment demands intensive communication of socio-economic opportunities created by government for vulnerable citizens and communities, in terms of the key priorities of government. Government’s focused infrastructure development programme presents a powerful opportunity to showcase the changing face of the South African economic landscape and the opportunities arising from this for individuals and enterprises.

The growth in digital and mobile communications presents government with the opportunity and challenge to engage interactively with citizens and stakeholders, and to join in social conversations rather than produce one-way communication.

The primary role of GCIS is to provide strategic leadership in government communication. Furthermore it aims to coordinate a government communication system that ensures that the public is informed about government’s policies, plans and programmes.

The Department’s strategic goals over the medium term are:

· ensure coherent, responsive and cost effective communications services for all government programmes;

· provide a comprehensive communication service on behalf of government to facilitate the involvement of the majority of South Africans in governance, reconstruction and development, nation building and reconciliation;

· ensure strength, success and security of South Africa ’s democracy through the rapid, responsive and continuous communication of government’s achievements; and

· ensure strategic alignment of the government communication system with the national government agenda so that government wide communication reports on the five priority areas of government: education, fighting crime; health; job creation and rural development.

2.1 Programme 1. Administration – R132 600 000

The purpose of the programme is to provide overall management and support for the Department, through its sub-programmes, which include: (i) human resources management; (ii) strategic planning and programme management; (iii) training and development; (iv) information management and technology; (v) internal audit; and (vi) finance and supply chain management.

2.2 Programme 2. Content Processing and Dissemination – R97 000 000

The purpose of the programme is to provide strategic leadership in government communication for the purposes of ensuring coherence, coordination, consistency, quality, impact and responsiveness of government communication. The programme has the following programmes: (i) policy and research; (ii) products and platforms; and (iii) marketing and distribution.

2.3 Programme 3. Intergovernmental Coordination and Stakeholder Management – R120 000 000

The purpose of the programme is the implementation of development communication through mediated and unmediated communication, and sound stakeholder relations and partnerships. The programme has the following sub-programmes: (i) provincial and local liaison; (ii) media engagement; and (iii) cluster communication.

2.4 Programme 4. Communication Service Agency – R47 200 000

The purpose of the programme is to provide media bulk-buying services and media production for the entire national government. It is tasked with communicating the work of government through implementing cost-effective media bulk buying in newspapers, radio, television, outdoor and digital media, through relevant advertising messaging. As importantly, the programme works to capture dynamic archives of South Africa ’s history. The programme has the following sub-programme: (i) media bulk buying; and (ii) media production.

3. Challenges

The Department raised the following as their key challenges: (i) limited fiscal resources; (ii) institutionalisation of government communications; (iii) office space constraints – this was raised as a challenge during the 2012/13 financial year – however, it is worth noting that GCIS will be moving to its new premises in May 2013; and (iv) insufficient media bulk buying support from government departments.

4. Expenditure Trends

The spending focus over the medium term will be on implementing the national communication strategy approved by Cabinet in June 2011 and providing for the operating lease, IT, security and office furniture related to the new head office building, of which the Department is to take occupation of in 2013/14. These activities will be carried out in the Intergovernmental Coordination and Stakeholder Management and Administration programmes. In implementing the national communication strategy, the Department will focus on ensuring that the strategy’s framework is adopted at the provincial and local government levels and that their development communication campaigns and programmes are aligned with the government communication programme.

The significant increase in spending in the Administration programme and on operation leases between 2009/10 and 2012/13 was mainly due to the R70 million once-off allocation for the new head office building. Spending in the Content Processing and Dissemination programme decreased significantly between 2009/10 and 2012/13 due to the Communication Service Agency sub-programme being moved out of this programme to be established as a stand-alone programme. This was done to fulfill the Department’s objective of providing media bulk buying and media production services to national government departments. Spending on compensation of employees increased significantly in 2012/13 as the Department increased the number of personnel by five people, mainly at salary levels 3 to 13, in order to implement the national communication strategy, establish the strategic planning and performance management unit, and allow the Department to assist other department with media bulk buying.

The Department receives additional allocation over the medium term of R3,4 million, R4,3 million and R7,4 million for improved conditions of service. Cabinet approved budget reductions of R3,9 million, R8,3 million and R13,1 million have been effected in spending over the medium term. These reductions, along with the accumulated effects of the reductions to the budget allocations in recent years, have delayed some of the planned expansions of communications services, as detailed in the national communication strategy. The Department has implemented measures, detailed within each programme, to mitigate any potential adverse effect on the achievement of outputs.

As at 30 September 2012, the Department had 23 vacant posts due to retirements, resignations and transfers to other government departments. The posts are to be filled within two months as per departmental policy. The Department had 505 funded posts in 2012/13, of which 24 contract workers are employed additional to the establishment. The ratio of support staff to line function staff is 1:3.

5. Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) – R56 301 000

Transfers from GCIS R20 800 000, Media Stakeholders R28 046 000 and Other Income R7 465 000

The MDDA was set up in terms of the MDDA Act, 2002 (Act 14 of 2002) to enable historically disadvantaged communities and individuals to gain access to the media. The mandate of MDDA is to: (i) create an enabling environment for media development and diversity which reflects the needs and aspirations of all South Africans; (ii) redress the exclusion and marginalisation of disadvantaged communities and people from access to the media and the media industry; and (iii) promote media development and diversity by providing support primarily to community and small commercial media projects. The overall objective of MDDA is to ensure that all citizens can access information in a language of their choice, and to transform media access, ownership and control patterns in South Africa .

The MDDA’s strategic focus over the medium term will be on: (i) advocating for media development and diversity; (ii) developing partnerships in advertising with the government departments, public entities and the private sector with a view to enhance the sustainability of small commercial media projects; (iii) providing grant and seed funding for community and small commercial media; (iv) providing capacity building interventions for beneficiary organisations and communities, including mentorship and monitoring and evaluation; (v) strengthening and consolidating beneficiary projects to levels of sustainability; (vi) conducting research and knowledge management; (vii) promoting media literacy and a culture of reading; (viii) communicating and encouraging public awareness about the media sector to a level where all South Africans have access to diverse forms of media; (ix) promoting quality programming and production in community broadcasting; and (x) raising funds and mobilising resources to strengthen the community and small commercial media projects for sustainability.

The MDDA has the following programmes:

5.1 Programme A: Community Media – R27 091 000

The purpose of this programme is to provide technical, non-financial and financial support to diverse media platforms owned and controlled by communities. Its strategic objective is the ownership, control and access to information and content production by communities.

5.2 Programme B: Small Commercial Media – R7 180 000

The purpose of this programme is to provide technical, non-financial and financial support to diverse media platforms owned and controlled by independent publishers. Its strategic objective is the enhancement of ownership and control by independent media entrepreneurs.

5.3 Programme C: Research, Training and Development – R3 949 000

The purpose of this programme is to create and enhance a body knowledge regarding the media landscape and capacity for a diverse media industry. Its strategic objective is a vibrant, innovative and people-centred media.

5.4 Programme D: Monitoring and Evaluation – R1 491 000

The purpose of this programme is to assess grant agreement compliance and impact of MDDA funded projects. Its strategic objective is to strengthen and promote a vibrant, innovative and people-centred and diversified media.

5.5 Programme E: Human Resources – R2 518 000

The purpose of this programme is to develop MDDA human capital so as to deliver products and services that delight stakeholders. Its strategic objective will be creation of an environment and capabilities that deliver MDDA value products and services.

5.6 Programme F: Communications, Branding and Stakeholder Management – R5 061 000

The purpose of this programme is to enhance the MDDA brand as a leader in media development and diversity . Its strategic objective is to make MDDA a well known, valued and reputable brand.

5.7 Programme G: Risk Management and Internal Audit – R1 659 000

The purpose of the programme is to limit the negative impact of organizational and environmental risks by enhancing governance and accountability standards of the MDDA.

5.8 Programme H: Financial Management – R6 904 000

The purpose of this programme is to provide MDDA with overall financial and supply chain management, and guide management in complying with legislative requirements, budget planning, financial management and administration. The strategic objective is to strengthen, grow and protect the MDDA funding base.

6. Expenditure Trends

The MDDA is funded by transfers from the GCIS and grants from broadcast and print media. It also earns non-tax revenue from interest generated on short term investments. Transfers received increased from R39,3 million in 2009/10 to R44,8 million in 2012/13 due to the signing and enforcement of a service level agreement with both print media funders and the broadcast media.

MDDA’s spending focus over the medium term will shift from taking on new projects to concentrating on existing ones by maintaining their current level of funding in order to ensure their viability. Spending increased significantly between 2009/10 and 2012/13 in order to meet the agencies grant making objective of promoting and strengthening the small commercial print and community media sectors. In 2012/13, 74,6 per cent of the agency’s R52,2 million budget was spent on these approved grant applications. The number of projects supported in any given year depends on the quality and quantity of the applications received.

MDDA expects to realise savings in excess of R2 million over the medium term from within the objectives for fundraising and resource mobilisation and advocacy for media development and diversity as a result of implementing cost saving measures. The measures included cutting down on traveling and accommodation costs, taking on fewer new projects and conducting fewer seminars. This, together with reductions in grant funding, accounts for the slower increase in spending projected over the medium term.

MDDA had 14 vacant posts as at 30 September 2012. The posts were vacant as a result of the new structure approved in June 2012 and are scheduled to be filled in 2013/14. Personnel numbers over the medium term are expected to increase to 29. Consultants used by the agency provide IT, internal audit and risk management services, which are outsourced as the agency does not have the personnel to perform these tasks.

The MDDA request an additional funding of R16, 839 million for the financial year 2013/14 broken down as follows:

· Monitoring and Evaluation – R3,1 million : These funds are needed to strengthen the M & E unit and increase the number of projects monitored yearly to more than 50.

· Grant Funding – R10 million : Since the funds from Print funders are decreasing on yearly basis additional funds are need to add to funds allocated to small commercial media sector which is funded mainly from Government and Print funders contributions.

· Implementations of Communications Strategy – R2,4 million : To increase public awareness with regards to media development and diversity issues and also encourage an increase in number of projects applications in rural areas.

· Human resources vacancies – R1.339 million

o Senior Manager Communications – R540 000

o Project Officer (M & E) - R179 000

o Company Secretary – R620 000

o Total funding requirements – R16,839m

7. Challenges

As identified in 2012-13, the sustainability of funded projects remains an ongoing challenge mainly due to insufficient financial support by mainstream print media to the community print, as well as insufficient financial support from all spheres of government to sustain the community media through placing of advertisements that advocates government programmes and activities.

This was also identified during the Committee’s oversight visits in 2012 - 13 to the North West , Gauteng and Eastern Cape provinces .

8. Observations and Recommendations

8.1 Observations

The Committee noted the following: (i) that MDDA had requested the National Treasury to facilitate the transfer of the budget allocation for the purpose of capacity building of community radio programme production from Budget Vote 27 to Budget Vote 9 (ii) that MDDA Board does not have a Company Secretary as required in terms of sound corporate governance principles; (iii) that not all national departments comply with the Committee’s 2012/13 recommendations to use community media when advertising; and (iv) the slow pace towards legislative and policy review which needed to be conducted in order to address sectoral challenges which relate to sustainability and tariffs.

Furthermore, the Committee expressed its concern over: (i) the state of existing Thusong Centres; (ii) the empty GCIS stands at Post Offices; and (iii) the reduction in the print order of the Vukuzenzele publication.

8.2 Recommendations

The Committee recommends that the Minister:

(i) must expedite legislation and policy review given the challenges facing community media particularly in terms of transformation;

(ii) should conduct an audit of compliance of national departments about the Committee recommendations that national government departments and state owned entities should include advertising through community media; and

(iii) MDDA provide a breakdown of funding for existing and new community media projects.

The Committee is satisfied with the GCIS Strategic Plan 2013 – 2017; its Annual Performance Plan for 2013 – 2014; and MDDA Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Annual Performance Plan for the period 2013 – 2017 and accordingly supports its implementation.

Report to be considered.

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