In response to media enquiries GCIS wishes to clarify matters regarding its work in relation to other departments and in so doing to correct a misleading report that has appeared in Business Day (Spin doctors called upon to aid blunder-prone Manto, 12 May 2005) concerning communication on HIV and AIDS.
Given its role as a co-ordinating and integrating agency, and a provider of communication services, GCIS works in co-operation with all other departments. Most communication campaigns in their nature involve more than one department and the project teams servicing or co-ordinating them will be interdepartmental in character.
The teams work under the leadership of the line department with principal responsibility for the issue, even where GCIS provides some strategic and secretarial support. Interdepartmental teams facilitate co-ordination and coherence in communication, drawing on experience gained in other initiatives including efficient use of communication resources. Interdepartmental communication teams led by GCIS itself are few and far between – such as the popularisation of government’s Programme of Action, National Imbizo Focus Weeks, MPCCs and government’s corporate identity.
In the case of HIV and AIDS the need for a structure to co-ordinate communication across departments was identified in 1998 in the light of the large number of departments involved, with particular emphasis on the demands of a mass awareness and prevention campaign and the building of a national partnership against AIDS.
An interdepartmental team came into existence in 1999 as part of the implementation of the five year strategic plan. Communication on HIV and AIDS remains as it has always been under the leadership of the Minister and Department of Health.
That is the structure that Business Day’s Political Correspondent, Karima Brown refers to as an “interdepartmental committee” set up “to improve the state’s controversial management of its HIV/AIDS message”.
What is of serious concern to GCIS and the Department of Health is that the Business Day report relies on unnamed sources, and even where the facts were placed before the author, she persisted with her preconceived angle to the report. Further, this type of conduct happened a day after the same reporter and her colleagues had relied on some unnamed “sources” regarding the discussion in Cabinet on organisation and capacity of the state, peddling information that was mostly inaccurate and reflecting the subjective views of individuals who seemed to have deliberately misled her to promote their own agendas.
GCIS is of the view that such conduct is unethical, and does not serve the interests of Business Day or its readership.
Cell: 083 302 7657
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)