6 May 2016
Address by the Honourable Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi (MP), at the presentation of the Department of Communications Budget Vote 2016/17 in the National Assembly Chamber
Honourable House Chairperson;
Deputy Minister of Communications, Ms. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams;
Ministers and Deputy Ministers;
Traditional Leaders present here today;
Trustees of Brand SA
Acting Chairperson of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and other Councillors;
Chairpersons and Board members of SABC, MDDA and FPB
Members of the media;
Distinguished guests in the gallery;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Building on our achievements and addressing our challenges
As I present this Budget Vote today, I will also take this opportunity to reflect on the commitments I made in the 2015/16 Budget Vote. Last year we indicated that the new Department of Communications would become operational from 1 April 2015. It is therefore with a great sense of pride that I stand before you today to report that the department is hard at work and has successfully completed its first year of operation.
Last year when I stood before this house, we reported that Cabinet had approved the final amendments to the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy. I am delighted to inform this house that since then, we have made significant progress in implementing the approved policy.
Amongst others, we have been able to achieve the following critical milestones:
- Finalisation of the Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) (SANS 862) and Direct-to-Home (DTH) (SANS 1719) standards in April 2015 and Integrated Digital TV (IDTV) (SANS 10352) standard in September 2015.
- Between May and June 2015, we undertook a series of bilateral engagements with Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho to ensure the harmonisation of the radio frequency spectrum in order to develop plans to reduce any potential broadcast signal interference. During these visits, I signed Joint Communique, Joint Statements and Memorandum of Co-operations with my neighbouring counterparts. I can report in confidence to this house that to date no interference has been reported.
- In July 2015, we launched the commencement of public awareness campaigns to educate the citizens about the need to migrate and the benefits of the broadcasting digital migration programme. The launch was followed by a series of Digital Migration Izimbizo campaigns that I led across the country.
- In August 2015, a conformance regime to ensure that the set-top-boxes (STBs) and related accessories are produced in South Africa was finalised. It is currently being used to test whether the STBs comply with the approved South African DTT standards.
- In August 2015, a panel of 26 manufacturers was established to produce STBs and related accessories such as antennae’s and satellite dishes.
- The implementation of the long-awaited Digital Migration has started in the Northern Cape! The SKA bound community, Keimos, has become the first beneficiary of the DTH and DTT Set-Top-Boxes. I would like to thank the Mayor of Keimoes, Councillor Olyn and ward Councillor Mr Afrikaner, who are present here for their invaluable support in ensuring that this project is launched successfully. These are the true ambassadors of the DTT in their communities.
- We will continue to work with the Department of Science and Technology to ensure that we complete the Northern Cape SKA area on or before the June 2016 deadline.
- The registration process made it possible for us to launch the distribution and installation of the government-subsidised STBs and related accessories on 17 December 2015 in Keimoes, under the theme “ZWI KHOU ITEA” (IT IS HAPPENING) in South Africa.
Mrs Slanger , the first recipient of the government subsidised set top box is with us this morning Mevrou Slinger, die eerste ontvanger van die regering se subsidie set-top-box, sy’s hier met ons van oggend. Ek is baie trots op jou Mevrou, want meeste van ons ouderlinge is nie entoesiasties on tegnologie gebruik nie.
- We have also announced 1 February 2016 as the commencement of the Dual-Illumination performance period.
To make Digital Migration a success, we will work with the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and the National Treasury to come up with a mechanism on how SENTECH can be assisted in maintaining two networks system (dual illumination) costs. We will announce the analogue signal switch-off date when more than 80% of the TV households have been migrated to digital TV.
These achievements have also had their own fair share of challenges.
We have in the recent past noted a slow registration take-up by citizens due to the TV license requirement and insufficient funding to conduct public and consumer awareness campaigns. Together with the SABC management we have since resolved to delink the TV license requirement from the STB subsidy registration process. I have also instructed the SABC to clean-up the TV license database in order to have accurate and reliable information on who owns a TV set in South Africa to enable proper infrastructure planning.
Despite not having access to television services, Mr John Africa, who is among us this morning, has been a very responsible citizen by doing the right thing to pay his television license regardless of his financial situation! I am also making a clarion call for all citizens to pay their TV licenses to enable the SABC to discharge its public broadcasting service mandate with ease.
We wish to reiterate that the success of the DTT project across the globe is heavily dependent on the implementation of a focused and properly funded education and awareness campaign. It is with great concern to note that the DTT Public Awareness campaign and related activities, such as the Call Centre are not funded for the 2016/17 financial year. However, there are temporary mechanisms in place to address the funding shortfall in the interim. Lastly, I have acted decisively on the allegations regarding the inappropriate procurement of STBs and related accessories. We have received a final forensic report on the Supply Chain Management process from the National Treasury and once we have studied the findings and recommendations thereof, we will inform the public on the necessary actions to be taken.
Together with the GCIS, the department has implemented transformation interventions to overhaul the broader communications industry. Today, 6 May 2016, the DTI will republish the Marketing, Advertising and Communication (MAC CHARTER ) Sector Code concluding 15 years of negotiations. This paves the way for the implementation of the MAC Sector Council, which will monitor the ambitious transformation targets necessary to ensure more participation by women and youth. To give effect to these targets, we have also entered into a memorandum of understanding with the State Owned Entity Communicators Association representing the marketing divisions of government entities.
We will begin evaluating all marketing, advertising and communications companies providing services to government and its entities and will remove non-complying companies from our service provider database. Marketing and advertising communication reaches over 50 (fifty) million South Africans every day. For such a small industry, its power to influence South Africans is disproportionate to its size, hence the need to make it a truly South African industry is imperative.
Print media transformation is our flagship project for the 2016/17 financial year. There is a huge disconnect between the expectations of both Government and media on what exactly the role of the media should be.
On the one hand Government has taken a view that media is a partner and consequently lined up a whole strategy and delivery mechanism on this FALSE premise. Every fortnight since President Zuma took office in 2009, Government holds post-Cabinet briefings with video conferencing facilities to link up both Cape Town and Pretoria. At any given media briefings, the Cabinet statements are generally no less than 10 pages of insightful content that covers current affairs, Cabinet decisions, Presidential engagements, national achievements, conferences and commitments of Ministers both locally and internationally. The release also contains pertinent details of progress reports in terms of the outcomes as per the delivery contracts between the President and Ministers.
In addition, there is regular reporting on the Bills and their various stages towards becoming legislation.
Notwithstanding these, our media would rather focus scandalising government even if that means not getting all the facts right. To some media houses their main mission is simply to paint this Government as corrupt, hapless and inept. It could also be argued that racist tendencies also play a role in the unrelenting attempts aimed at stigmatising a black government led by the African National Congress. It has now become common cause that the independence and professionalism of many journalists are now measured on how ruthless their reporting can be about this ANC-led Government. Media transformation will in this regard, amongst others, be made to address not only print media ownership, but also the ownership of printing press, the measurement of circulation, distribution channels and the assessment of regulatory instruments to regulate the affairs of media practitioners.
During the back to school campaign, I was deployed in Limpopo, where I visited Mphambo High School in Malamulele. I discovered that access to information about careers, youth development including knowledge of the work of government and its leaders remains a challenge to historically disadvantaged pupils. I have invited one of the pupils at the school, Ms Nhlalala Maluleke to join me in the gallery. She will share with you how difficult it is for a rural to access information. We urge veteran journalist like Ms Seipati Sentle to use her experience and free time to transfer knowledge and information to these communities.
We will during the second quarter of the financial year host a colloquium on Print Media Transformation with all role players including the public. Last year we also committed to developing an overarching National Communication Policy to refocus and improve government communication in all spheres. I am happy to report that this has been completed and is being rolled out to departments and entities.
Our Policy Review Programme
Work is at an advanced stage regarding the finalisation of the broadcasting policy review process. Some of the overarching and specific objectives of the review are to:
- create a level playing field for emerging audio-visual media services;
- protect and empower consumers (audiences), in particular guarantee key societal values for the protection of minors and human dignity, and promoting the rights of visually and or hearing impaired persons; and
- promote South African content to support social cohesion and nation building and safeguard media diversity, pluralism, freedom of expression and information.
The Community Radio Support Strategy has been finalised and is being implemented. I am pleased to inform the house that in 2015/16 financial year the GCIS has just spent over R26m (twenty six million) on community radio advertising. During the 2016/17 financial year, five licensed community radio stations will be provided with broadcasting infrastructure. We also like to commend the role played by the commercial radio broadcasting in helping government to address some of the social ills in our communities. We have amongst us this morning, Mr Alex Mthiyane from Igagasi FM who played a major role in assist 16 indigent families in Willowfomtein. We also call upon other private businesses to do the same!
The department’s community radio programme is working! We have amongst us here today the Mayor of Greater Giyani Municipality, Councillor Hlungwani, whose municipality partnered with the Giyani Community Radio Station by providing them with premises and advertising support to ensure the sustainability of the station. We call upon other municipalities to emulate this gesture without compromising the editorial independence of the stations.
Protection of children against harmful online content also remains a critical component of our work during this year. To this end we have since introduced the Films and Publications Amendment Bill into Parliament. Considering the increase in online hate speech and discrimination that dominated our country this year, I have instructed the FPB to continue engaging with the South African Human Rights Commission to strengthen governments’ response to this social ill. We will not tolerate such unbecoming behaviour. We will continue with the Department of Arts and Culture to strengthen Social Cohesion and urge all members of the public to join the members of the public the campaign Hash tag Not in my name
The department’s total budget for the 2016/17 financial year amounts to R1 344 685bn (one point three billion), of which R899m (eight hundred and nighty nine million) are transfers to the entities. The department’s operational budget amounts to R75, 2m (seventy five point two million). Out of this amount, R59, 2m (fifty nine point two million) and R15, 9m (fifteen point nine million) is allocated to the compensation of employees, and goods and services respectively. A total amount of R84 000 (eighty four thousand) is allocated for payment of capital assets.
As indicated to the Portfolio Committee, this skewed allocation is a clear indication that the department is not adequately funded to fully discharge its mandate as pronounced by President Jacob Zuma in May 2014. We will, however, continue to make the best out of the available budget as we discharge our critical mandate. The Department of Government of Communications and Information Systems (GCIS).
The NDP emphasises the need to unite South Africans around a common goal, ensure citizens are active in their own development, and build a capable and developmental state. We have amongst us here this morning, a living example of partnership between government and traditional leaders. This partnership is as a result of our community outreach programme in far flung areas of our country. To this end, we have Hosi Xigamani, Hosi Manghove,Hosi Khamanyani,Hosi Nxumalo and Prince Gulukhulu.
To support these outcomes the GCIS will continue to implement programmes aimed at facilitating two-way communication between government and its citizens. This will enable citizenry to access information about government policies, plans, programmes and activities to promote government accountability and to ensure that citizens can actively participate in government initiatives. In order to fulfil this responsibility a budget of R382, 1m (three hundred and eighty two point one million) has been allocated to the GCIS. A total of R222, 8 (two hundred and twenty two point eight million) and R158, 2m (one hundred and fifty eight point 2 million) is allocated to the compensation of employees and goods and services respectively.
The department will also continue to publish and distribute the fortnightly Vuk’uzenzele newspaper. The total budget allocated for its production and distribution is 18.7m (eighteen point seven million) copies per year of Vuk’uzenzele in all 11 official languages amounts to R25, 8m (twenty five point eight million) in 2016/17. We will continue to encourage government departments to place recruitment advertisements in Vuk’uzenzele.
I would like to thank departments that are using this platform to advertise their vacancies and also encourage others to do so too. Sometime last year, we were fortunate to be visited by a group of 25 elderly persons from a religious congregation in Shayandima, in Limpopo Province Vend led by the former Executive Mayor of Vhembe District Municipality, Mme Vho-Irene Mutsila, who is also amongst this morning. They opted to come to GCIS resource centre which we shared with them various government publications. As a result, even today they still demand access to most of government publications.
Our Portfolio Entities
The success of the DoC is heavily dependent on the optimal performance of all its entities. In order to bring about effective oversight to the entities, we have during the 2015/16 financial year approved the Entity Oversight Governance Framework Policy which we are currently implementing. Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is mandated to regulate the ICT sector in the public interest as enshrined in the Constitution.
I would like to thank the National Assembly and the Portfolio Committee on Communications for steering the recruitment and selection process of the Councillors. We are therefore delighted that four new councillors have joined the Council of ICASA as from 1 April 2016. Their arrival will bring about the much needed governance and stability in the Authority. We wish them well! We will work with the National Assembly to prioritise the appointment of the remaining two councillors to ensure the full complement of the Council.
For the 2016/17 financial year, the Authority has been allocated an amount of R414, 4m (four hundred and fourteen comma four million) which amongst others will be used to increase access to meet the high demand for wireless broadband services, protect consumers against harmful practices employed by operators in the use of premium rated services, increase competition in the broadcasting sector, and develop a regulatory framework for dynamic spectrum management. ICASA, will in the second quarter of this financial year, begin with the review of the new call termination rates. In line with the MoU signed, the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services will make further pronouncements in his Budget Vote. With this budget ICASA will also focus on the implementation of local content regulations in this financial year.
The Film and Publications Board will over the medium term focus on informing and educating society to empower adults and protect children against harmful content; implementing compliance, and monitoring and evaluation; developing leading edge technology to perform online content regulation, and to classify content for films, games and adult publications; and conducting research on the impact of content on the public. In this regard the FPB has been allocated R86, 4m (eighty six point four million).
A total of R181, 2m (one hundred and eighty one point two million) has been allocated to Brand South Africa. During this financial year Brand South Africa will utilise the allocated funding to amongst others drive the partnership with universities to look at the different nation branding and the implementation of the Play Your Part programme in partnership with provincial governments. Let me take this opportunity to welcome the new Trustees of Brand SA.
An amount of R23, 8m (twenty three point eight million) has been allocated to the Media Development and Diversity Agency to enable it to provide technical, non-financial and financial support to the diverse media platforms. This will enable the MDDA to increase the participation of communities in ownership and control of community and small commercial media through its agile, cost-effective and business focused corporate services and general administration.
The SABC remains South Africa’s most accessible broadcaster and therefore government must continue to support it to discharge its public broadcasting service mandate. The department has a duty to promote the growth and development of the local content industries to ensure that there is enough content for digital platforms in all 11 official languages.
We therefore welcome the announcements by His Excellency President Zuma on the occasion of his Budget Vote debate on Wednesday, 4th May 2016, and I quote “The public broadcaster will also be engaging local television content producers on the way forward, with regards to new content commissioning” closed quote . The Ministry is pleased to announce to this house that the SABC has moved swiftly to meet and engage the local television content producers on 04 May 2016. I am told that this session was full to capacity. This initiative will result in the appointment of commissioning editors in all nine provinces where shooting and packaging of the content will be done in the respective provinces. This a radical shift from how the SABC used to commission content wherein the shooting and packaging used to happen in main cities.
In addition, as announced by the President we will work with the Department of Trade and Industry which has established a Black Emerging Filmmakers Fund which aims to assist in bridging the inequality gap for filmmakers in South Africa. This initiative by the SABC will go a long way towards preservation of culture, tradition and heritage as presented by the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in this house on Tuesday, 3rd May 2016.
We are also pleased to announce that during the second quarter of this financial year the SABC will cease to flight international content repeats and this will be replaced by the South African content, where South Africans will be telling their own stories in their own languages.
Whilst we welcome the good work by the SABC team we also bemoan the continued inadequate funding of the Corporation. In this regard work is underway to develop different funding model options for the SABC. We are evaluating the available funding models including direct government funding, advertising, and the television license fee as possible sources of increased funding for the SABC. The SABC is allocated R182, 2m (one hundred and eighty two point two million) to fund the operations of the Channel Africa, capital infrastructure programme, community radio station and programme production.
I am happy that this Budget Vote of the Department of Communications is delivered during Africa month under the theme “Building a Better Africa and a Better World”, which resonates with Outcome fourteen. This year’s programme focuses on women and youth development activities especially as we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the women’s march to the Union Buildings and 40th Anniversary of the Soweto Student Uprising. These milestones culminate in the celebration of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996, which anchors our vision of a “South Africa that belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity”.
While the Constitution gives equal rights to all South Africans, it also places responsibilities on us to play our part in fostering social cohesion and nation building which are necessary requirements if we are to realise Vision 2030 of the National Development Plan (NDP).
To the Portfolio Committee on Communications, thank you for your excellent counsel in performing your oversight function to the departments and its entities. I would like to thank the Deputy Minister Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and Team DoC including the past and present leadership and management of entities for their unwavering support. Special thanks goes to my comrades and friends for their continued guidance and supports.
Lastly, I would like to thank my family, in particular my son for his understanding and support and putting a smile on my face every day. Chairperson, it is my privilege at this moment to table the Budget Vote to the House.
I thank you!