Government Communications (GCIS) rejects in the strongest terms the allegation by some parties that the insert in newspapers about the implementation of government programmes constitutes ANC propaganda.
The insert, as is clearly stated in the document itself, is based in President Mandela's last State of the Nation address to Parliament, as well as presentations by Ministers at the GCIS Parliamentary Briefing Week which followed between 8 and 18 February 1999. Government, we must reaffirm, has a responsibility to keep citizens informed about its activities. The right to this information is guaranteed in the Constitution.
Needless to say, as Government Communications finds its feet after its launch in May last year, it is to be expected that there will be more such direct communication with the citizenry, including through newspaper inserts, leaflets, audio and video material, and the Government web site -Government Online - which was launched a few weeks ago. It is a reflection of weakness in government communications in the past, that such direct information from government to the population had not been made available in creative ways. This has nothing to do with the on-coming elections and party political campaigns.
GCIS is mandated by government to communicate to the public about efforts to transform South African society. This is precisely what the President and Ministers set out to do in February; and this is what GCIS is communicating. Through the methods of distribution may not have been effective before GCIS was set up, we wish to underline that this is not the first time that such an exercise has been engaged in. Booklets on the Mid-term Report were produced in 1997, and so was an update including the State of the Nation address and Ministerial progress reports published in 1998. We dare to ask, if government communication structures were not producing such material on government activities and pronouncements who else, indeed, is supposed to do it?
It is not surprising that, in the context of the build-up to an election periods, some opposition parties would be particularly sensitive. They are, after all, in opposition to government; and would not be enthused by information on government that does not contain the negativity that they may prefer. But such opposition would be taken seriously if it earnestly engaged the real content rather than make vitriolic statements against GCIS and its leadership. As to the statements directed at the CEO of GCIS, we wish to refer those involved to the Public Service Act and relevant regulations.
GCIS is encouraged by the interest in the material it is producing. We wish to urge the public to access, and familiarise themselves with, this information. The President's Speech and the Ministerial briefing can also be found on the government web site. Let the citizens be the judge. It is they after all who are at the heart of this government's attempts to provide a better life for all.
GCIS Deputy CEO
Abba Omar at
Cell: 082 414 3383
Chief Director: Media Liaison
Portia Maurice on
Cell: 082 5754 132
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)