8 October 2013
More South Africans are receiving a wider range of information about government services, policies and plans across a broad range of communication platforms, the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) annual report for 2012/13 reveals. Among other initiatives in during 2012/13 financial year, GCIS intensified its Public Participation Programme, which took various national, provincial and local leaders to communities to hear people’s views and share information about government’s plans and policies.
In his foreword to the GCIS annual report which has been tabled in Parliament, Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane says government communication is an important part of helping South Africa realise the National Development Plan’s Vision 2030.
“Now, more than ever, citizens need to unite behind a common goal and believe that it is not only attainable, but for the good of all of us. “In the year under review, GCIS has done much to strengthen communication channels between government and the people.” The GCIS annual report credits the Participation Programme with closing the social distance between citizens and the executive, by putting more than 23 million South Africans in direct contact with leaders in more than 3 000 public participation events. GCIS complemented directed interaction between elected leaders and citizens with intensified media relations and its own publishing efforts that include monthly editions of Vuk’uzenzele newspaper, 1,7 million monthly copies of which are distributed in peri-urban and deep rural areas countrywide. 4 844 braille copies of Vuk’uzenzele newspaper were produced.
During the year under review, GCIS also rebranded the government news agency formerly known as BuaNews, as SAnews.gov.za, which now offers a range of multimedia content online. The site attracts around 700 000 hits a month. Also in 2012/13, GCIS stepped up centralised media bulk buying, which secured better value for government’s adspend, with the improved buying power being used to advertise government services and messages on community media that were previously deprived of the Public Sector adspend.
In addition, GCIS found innovative ways to communicate with those who have little access to traditional or digital media. One such innovation was a partnership with Transnet’s Phelophepa Health Train, which visits 24 train stations in four provinces and provides services to 380 000 people. Thusong Service Centres, located primarily in rural and underserved areas, continued to provide government services and distribute communication products, reaching more than 3,1 million people during the reporting period. GCIS’s communication activities were enabled by diligent management of the department’s human and financial resources – an achievement reflected by an unqualified audit by the Auditor-General, as well as the high rating achieved in the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) Report released by the Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation last month.
Acting GCIS CEO, Phumla Williams said: “In 2012/13, we worked hard as a department – and worked vigorously in partnership with others – to stay true to our vision of being the pulse of communication excellence in government and to ensure that government stayed in touch with citizens.” “We did our best with the resources entrusted to us. As always, we recognise that we have done well, and we know where we have yet to do more but we are confident that we can achieve our objective of a citizenry that is better informed and motivated to become part of making South Africa even better.
“With discipline and innovation and by employing good governance practices we are working with what we have to achieve our goals.” During the year under review, GCIS identified areas where it could operate more efficiently, and continued the roll-out of the Cabinet approved revised National Communication Strategy, which enjoins GCIS and government departments to align their values and messaging around government’s 12 outcomes and five priority areas.
“Communicating directly with the public is a key focus area for GCIS. We use every opportunity to promote civic education and an active citizenry. GCIS commits to continue strengthening the relations between government, the public and other stakeholders,” Ms Williams said.
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Issued by: Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)