Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee
Minister in The Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Administration
Friends and comrades
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Today I would like to focus on the critical component of our communication which is direct communication at provincial and local government levels. I would also like to speak about the work we are doing in diversifying media at community level and our international marketing of our country’s brand.
As most of you are aware - GCIS has provincial offices in all nine provinces. These offices provide support to provincial departments and the Thusong Service Centres in various municipalities. The centres, formerly known as Multi-Purpose Community Centres (MPCCs) provide a critical service at the cold face of delivery to our people. The centres were initiated in 1999 as one of the primary vehicle for the implementation of development communication and information and to integrate government services into primarily rural communities.
Government´s vision for these centres is to provide every South African citizen with access to information and services within their place of residence and in each local municipality by 2014 with the purpose of improving the quality of their lives through integrated service delivery. To date there are 165 centres operational, making a crucial contribution to the expansion of infrastructure for access to information and services that citizens can use. This network of centres is complimented by over 40 joined up mobile units.
Over the past year, GCIS has recorded servicing over 5 million South Africans through this extended network. To address the challenge of underreporting on statistics from Centre Managers, GCIS has managed the training of 999 government employees who serve in these centres.
In April I visited the Manne Dipico Thusong Service Centre, in the Northern Cape, as part of service delivery monitoring and evaluation. I was impressed to observe that the centre was indeed bringing services closer to our people. Upon arrival I interacted with a number of officials including the Programme Manager Mr Bashir Fleming who informed my delegation that the centre provides services to a minimum of 200 people a day. Key services rendered at this particular centre include amongst others those from the Departments of Home Affairs, Social Development, Health, Government Communication and Information System as well as the local municipality.
During the visit I also observed that the centre is doing a great job in meeting the needs of the community. We must encourage the establishment of more centres such as these in all municipalities. This is a great example of how government departments can work together seamlessly and take services to the people.
As government, it is important to work together and cooperate with one another in all spheres of government whether provincial, national or local in order to make an impact and achieve results for the benefit of the people.
GCIS continues to strengthen provincial and local government communication by ensuring concrete communication initiatives for effective provincial and local government communication, which includes intensification of face to face and unmediated engagements with communities, localising national content and prioritising the Local Government Turn Around Strategy.
GCIS coordinated a communications approach and strategy, for the recently held local government elections, which created awareness among citizens to exercise their democratic right to vote. This communication strategy was implemented by communicators at national, provincial and local levels. GCIS remains cognizant of the lack of vigour with which municipalities are institutionalizing their communication functions which does not meet the communication demands locally, despite guidelines for communication in municipalities being adopted by the Presidential Coordinating Council in 2006.
GCIS partnered with Ward Councillors, Traditional Leaders and their accompanying structures, civil society, community based organisations, organised formations of local business, religious groups, women, youth and the disabled in some of the remotest areas of the country to collaborate towards putting in place systems and mechanisms to ensure that the public has consistent access to information on programmes, policies and opportunities. When we communicate effectively with our communities, we will be able to address issues and concerns, therefore minimize service delivery protests.
I would like you to humbly imagine this for a few seconds - each community has a Ward Councillor and if a Councillor can visit each and every household, in five years we would know the challenges faced by those households individually. When we plan our service delivery and budgets we will be guided by true information received from our citizenry.
Media Development and Diversity Agency
Government remains committed to a strong and diverse media, which will support nation building as well as efforts to deepen, consolidate, defend and strengthen our democracy, social cohesion and good governance. This Parliament in recognizing the exclusion and marginalization of disadvantaged communities and persons from access to the media and the media industry, resolved to establish the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA). The MDDA is an Agency created in terms of the MDDA Act No. 14 of 2002 in partnership with the major print and broadcast media industry, to help create an enabling environment for media development and diversity that is conducive to public discourse and which reflects the needs and aspirations of South Africans.
GCIS, through the MDDA will continue to push for the transformation of the media in South Africa. The MDDA has recorded successes which include providing support to more than 343 media projects across South Africa focusing on historically disadvantaged communities, using indigenous languages. This was done with the budget allocation of R128.8m accumulatively since 2004.
Since inception the Agency has trained over 1300 people, provided 143 bursaries to different radio and print media and created approximately 200 (direct and indirect) job opportunities beneficiary projects which empowered more people with skills that enabled them to participate in the broader media and broadcasting industry.
In sustaining beneficiaries the MDDA held seminars promoting media literacy and the culture of reading. In addition the MDDA also conducted workshops on its advertising and marketing toolkit in order to develop the marketing plans of beneficiaries in order to empower them to access available advertising revenue in their areas. In addressing capacity challenges the MDDA also held training sessions with its beneficiaries on, financial management, compliance with funding agreements, and other core competencies to ensure effective and efficient use of funds transferred by the Agency.
Future plans for the MDDA include - continued support to at least 1 community radio, 1 community media and magazine, 1 commercial newspaper and magazine at each District Municipality. Further, the Agency plans to support at least 1 community television station in each province.
The MDDA plans to conduct a study on the social impact of the community radio, which will assist in better understanding the value of this media and the need to continue supporting it. There will be increased focus on the media transformation discourse which includes media diversity, ownership & control, elimination of gender discrimination in the media, promotion of gender equality, promoting all languages (with particular reference to indigenous languages), promoting access to information by all, improvement in respect of children content and other key dynamics.
The Agency will also look at media accountability mechanisms that complement and strengthen self regulation, enhance media credibility and accountability, discourage irresponsible reporting, promotes high standards in the media, encourage professionalism and strengthen our democracy.
It gives me great pleasure Honourable Members to introduce two groups that have joined us this morning. The Moeketsi Graves Senior Secondary School in Matatiele, Eastern Cape and Zisize Educational Trust in Ingwavuma, KZN have been invited so that they can have a better understanding of the role and processes of Parliament.
We seek to create an exchange / learning platform for the learners and educators to share their media literacy project work with Parliamentarians. The media literacy programme targets learners, it seeks to create media awareness and consciousness through bringing media to the classrooms by offering an opportunity for young people to learn critical consumption of media and to raise their awareness of the role of the media in a democratic society.
The Moeketsi Graves Senior Secondary School participated in the media literacy & training project conducted by the MDDA, where 5 schools with 10 learners each and educators participated. The launch of the project was done at the Council Chambers in the Alfred Nzo District Municipality, attended by politicians, including the Deputy Minister of Education, media owners, editors and the learners. This group after training, produced a newsletter cover page which won, from the other 5 schools and was supported by the MDDA to participate at the Highway Africa Conference 2009 in Grahamstown.
Zisize Educational Trust in Ingwavuma is one of the MDDA funded projects, which empowers learners (Abaqophi Children's Radio Project) to produce radio programmes (different genres) and broadcast the same through the local community radio station, Maputaland Community Radio. In 2009, the group from Ingwavuma, was awarded the UNICEF International Day of Children’s Broadcasting award for the Abaqhopi Children’s Radio Project.
International Repositioning of SA
Turning to the work of the International Marketing Council (IMC), given the resounding success of the hosting of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, the first on African soil, last week the IMC met with President Jacob Zuma and it was proposed and agreed in principle that the organisation’s name be changed from IMC to Brand South Africa. This will be tabled at the Cabinet meeting in July. The name change is to make clear what IMC does, which is to market and manage perceptions of South Africa internally and globally. The government fully supports the IMC in its role as the custodian of our country’s brand.
The IMC’s job is to work with and through stakeholders to attract investment and enhance trade in ways that will stimulate employment and grow our economy. The mobility of capital and talent in the global economy makes it imperative for nations to manage their reputations effectively.
Our successful second term for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), our inclusion in the Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICS) bloc as well as various other key international developments, would have not been possible without the contributions of Brand South Africa. The mandate to build South Africa’s nation brand reputation in order to improve South Africa’s global competitiveness the IMC remains key as the country repositions itself locally and internationally.
In observing the Cabinet endorsed call for better coordination and adherence to protocols and procedures during international engagements, GCIS is in the process of finalizing draft Guidelines for International Engagements that will ensure a more composite communication approach to international engagements.
It will also place development at the epicenter of the international developmental agenda, where South Africans will be kept informed about how the international agenda contributes towards the attainment of domestic priorities. Presentation is as important as substance, because people are able to access information and form perceptions in seconds as they ‘Google’ a particular issue or location. These perceptions soon drive the way people take serious decisions about places they have never visited or people they have never met and even influence investment by foreign companies and influential people. In the end perception and reality become two sides of the same coin!
South Africa remains ranked as the most competitive country in Sub Saharan Africa in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index. We are now ranked 54th out of 139 countries in the 2010 index. According to the Doing Business Report released annually by the World Bank, South Africa remains in the top quartile of the index, ahead of other emerging giants such as India, Brazil and Russia. South Africa is ranked 34th out of 183 nations when it comes to ease of doing business.
International marketing is done in conjunction with key stakeholders such as the Departments of International Relations and Cooperation, Trade and Industry, Department of Arts and Culture, South African Tourism and other interested government Ministries and agencies so as to ensure alignment of messaging and avoid duplication of effort.
Going forward, the IMC plans to hold provincial stakeholder summits to engage key stakeholders in government, business, civil society and media, with a view of strengthening alignment, support for IMC initiatives and generating insights for a country slogan. Yesterday, I launched the national stakeholders summits.
Active citizenship is a desired outcome of the IMC’s business plan for this financial year and it will be introducing campaigns that seek to contribute towards building a socially cohesive citizenry, in collaboration with other government and business stakeholders. We are indeed making a difference.
I would like to thank the Portfolio Committee for support provided through the chairperson, officials of GCIS, MDDA and IMC.
I thank you.
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)