Budget Vote Speech 2015/16 by Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

20 May 2015

20 May 2015

Department of Communications Budget Vote Speech by the Deputy Minister of Communications, Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

Honourable Chairperson
Honourable Members
The Minister of Communications, Ms Faith Muthambi
Ministers and Deputy Ministers here present
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen

Dumelang, Sanibonani, Good afternoon!

It was 60 years ago, when 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 the 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 cry for South Africa’s fight for her freedom and remains a core principle of the ANC led government’s work to this day. That unifying cry is that:  “THE PEOPLE SHALL GOVERN!”

Shlalo ohloniphekile, usomqulu wamalungelo uwazisa ukukwazi ukuthol’ ulwazi njengelungelo labantu eliqavile.
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.  Madame Chairperson, through the ANC-led government, today the public broadcaster has 18 radio stations, three television stations a 24-hour news channel and encore channel.

Modula Stulo; allow me to pause for a moment and reflect on a period which I am certain most of us assembled here have gone through. When I turned 21, I remember words of wisdom from my father who said, “lifikile exesha lokuhlola impazamo, imposiso kunye nezinto eziqaqambileyo odlule kuzo ukuzothi ga ngoku. Ntinga unqandwe zinkwenkwezi!

Ladies and Gentlemen, 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.
21 years into our democratic dispensation, the ANC led-government is steadfast on this guiding principle that, “the people of South Africa govern!”

21 Years of Progress

Honourable Chairperson, 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 the state of communications in the Country and matters requiring our attention. Ladies and Gentlemen, the people can only govern if;

  • They have access to information, and provide feedback to government
  • The poor have a voice
  • 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, and only 14 percent of the main stream print media is in black hands of which  women participation in board and senior management is limited to 4 percent.

Fellow South Africans, we cannot rest until this situation is turned around.  Robust engagement with media owners, Parliament and the public is necessary to successfully address this monopoly of media.

Honourable Members, through GCIS, we will commence the discussions and debate around transformation within a media environment by finalising its Draft discussion document:  titled “Towards a Policy on Media Transformation and Diversity.”
Chairperson, 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.

Media Diversity

Honourable Chairperson, 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 licenced community radio stations and five community 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 licence conditions.

In the same breadth 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% of are local young people.   Indeed Siyaqhuba!

Noting the challenges around skills development, governance, reliance on media brokers and inadequate human resource we will publish a Community Radio and Television Support Strategy for public consultation in all nine provinces.

SABC and MDDA will support the community radio sector, through the programme production initiative which will be targeting young people. In partnership with Forscene we are going to train unemployed youth, learners and teachers on Online Video Editing Software. Chairperson, we will also be engaging the Campus radio stations across institutions of higher education in the Country. 

In addition, Chairperson, we are going to provide community radio stations with equipment and infrastructure. 

MDDA and the South African Weather Service have joined hands in capacitating community radio stations on weather reporting and analysis. This will commence by the end of June.  

Freedom of Expression

Mhlali ngaphambili,   Ukupapasha ngexanasi kuligxeke, kukwakhubaza umkhitha wenkululeko yezendaba.   Malungu abekelekileyo, ngokweqweqwe lwenkangeleko, imiceli mingeni kuMzantsi Afrika kukuzam’ ukuqinisa amaqhele ekumanyeni isizwe esathi sazintsalu ngemibono. 

The recent judgments by the Press Ombudsman and the Appeal 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 non-compliance with the Press Code,  and the ineffectiveness of self/co-regulation.

The revelations of a document purported to be a Daily Dispatch News Diary, which if it is proved 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. Responsible journalism requires of our media to look at itself objectively. As for the government’s responsibilities, regulations and guidelines must always serve the public interest.

Moving South Africa forward through development communication

In moving South Africa forward, we will require extra efforts 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 in 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 therefore invited students from UCT and CPUT.

Working together with the office of the Speaker, we will be looking into the previous work of developing a regulatory policy framework and addressing copyrights issues related to broadcast footage produced by Parliament.

Concluding remarks: “We are Africa”

As I move towards conclusion, Honourable Chairperson, I would be remiss not to mention the last and very important demand in the Freedom Charter.  There Shall Be Peace and Friendship! This last demand spoke of our cooperative relationship with our brothers and sisters here in Africa as well as our respect of the equal rights for all nations and peoples.

With an escalation in public concern over the recent xenophobic attacks, we believe that the media can play a critical role in transforming negative stereotypes and discourses around our brothers and sisters and building on the good will and kindness of the majority of South Africans.

Honourable Chairperson, unlike the self-acclaimed prudent Journalist, Mr Allister Sparks who idolizes Hendrik Verwoed, 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.    I am still inspired by uTata Nelson Mandela who said in his speech to leaders in 1994, “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. A freedom of transformation, a freedom of equality and diversity, a freedom of consultation and participation, a freedom of expression, a freedom of working together to achieve more.

Finally, Chairperson, let me thank my dedicated team, my family and colleagues who are ever supporting me through thick and thin.   Ke mosadi o tshwara thipa bohaleng ka lebaka la lerato la nnete la lona.  

Ke a lebo ha
I thank You!

Issued by GCIS on behalf of the the Ministry of Communications

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