Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) Budget Vote 2013/14 Speech

09 May 2013

9 May 2013

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee,
Minister in The Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Hon. Collins Chabane,
Honourable members,
Honoured guest members of GCIS management and staff present
Members of the MDDA Board,
Management and staff present members of the media present
Friends and comrades
Ladies and gentlemen.

Today I feel privileged to stand before this house to deliver this budget vote, as we celebrate Africa month and also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the OAU under the theme "Pan Africanism and African Renaissance." This 50th anniversary is expected to facilitate and celebrate African narratives of past, present and future, and as a country and a continent we are acutely aware of the role that a strong and diverse media plays in meeting these expectations.

The mandate of the OAU was to decolonise Africa and unite Africa, ultimately decolonisation produced moments of inspiration, promise and greater political power, but failed to transform issues of economies and indigenous languages among others, the new mandate of the AU is to fulfil vision 2063 so that issues such as diminishing indigenous languages can come to the fore through diverse media platforms.

We take this opportunity to congratulate community radio stations that reach out to almost 80% of our communities in their own indigenous languages, including the Koisan language which is now broadcast on radio.

Ten years ago the fruits of government’s tireless work and efforts were realized with the launch of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA). It is important to reflect on the original concept of the MDDA, in order to better understand and appreciate the current work of the Agency.

The concept of the MDDA was rooted in the founding consensus of our democracy. At its heart is the understanding that our nation's legacy of imbalances and exclusions had to be overcome through a partnership of all sectors of society if our vision of a new society is to become a reality for all South Africans.

The MDDA was informed by the belief that if we address some of the fundamental problems in the media environment then the issues of content and diversity of opinion will start to take care of themselves.

However we have not fully realised. This Parliament in recognizing the exclusion and marginalisation of disadvantaged communities and persons from access to the media and the media industry, resolved to establish the MDDA, an Agency 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.

This is consistent with the freedom of expression provisions enshrined in Section 16 (1) and access to information provisions laid in Section 32 of the Constitution Act No. 108 of 1996 and the MDDA Act.

The mandate of the MDDA is to encourage the ownership, control and access to media by historically disadvantaged communities as well as by the historically diminished indigenous language and cultural groups.

With a view to promote, support and encourage diverse media, but as we are all aware in this house that the majority of media in our country is still owned by four large publishing groups, and according to the survey done by the South African Audit of Circulation, there are at least 29 commercial newspapers written in English, and just a handful written in other indigenous languages of which most of them are regional based. This calls upon us to reflect, debate and begin to provide solutions on our way.

Honourable members,

It is also important to remember that it is also 20 years after the first broadcast by the first SA community radio Bush Radio on the 25th April 1993, headed by Ms. Brenda Leornard, then followed by Zibonele Community radio in Khayelitsha that started as a primary health station under the leadership of Mr Mzamo Mngomana. Similarly it is also 20 years of the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF). This is therefore a year of celebration for the cause of Community Media.

Since 2003, when the MDDA was established the Agency held its first grant awarding meeting in January 2004. With limited resources, in terms of the funding base, compared to the initial idea of setting up an Agency that should have enough financial and human resource muscle to change the media landscape, the Agency has nevertheless done more with less and made significant achievements in its infant stage.

Honourable members,

I am pleased to report that the commitment and hard work of the MDDA has been shown through the many deliverables, including unqualified audited reports since its establishment.

The Agency has made a mark in developing and diversifying the media landscape, through the guidance of the MDDA Board, the dedication of management and staff, and the adherence to the dictates of the Public Finance and Management Act.

With a limited budget of R233 million accumulatively since 2004, the MDDA has supported more than 484 media projects, throughout South Africa, in all the provinces, focusing on historically disadvantaged communities, using indigenous languages.

As at 31 March 2013, the Agency had:

  •  trained over 1 800 people
  • provided 147 bursaries to different radio and print media
  • the Agency created approximately 300 (direct and indirect) job opportunities
  • held seminars promoting media literacy and the culture of reading.

Workshops were also conducted on the corporate governance toolkit to empower beneficiaries to develop a good corporate governance system for sustainability and growth. The Agency also held training sessions with its beneficiaries on issues of financial management, compliance with funding agreements, and other key corporate governance issues. These sessions aim to ensure that beneficiaries spend funds in accordance with the funding agreements, thereby enabling the MDDA to transfer money to them.

Honourable members,
For the 2013/14 Strategic and Business Plan, in addition to other projects, the MDDA plans to continue to:

  • support to at least one community radio
  • one community magazine
  • one commercial newspaper and magazine at each District Municipality.
  • The Agency also plans to support at least one community television in each province.

They also plan to conduct a study on the social impact of community radio. The MDDA plans to continue with interventions in respect of the promotion of media literacy and the culture of reading in all provinces, using all our indigenous languages.

Increasing focus in 2013/14 will be to continue to champion the media transformation discourse.

This will also include:

  • 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
  • working conditions and challenges for media workers and employment equity.

Parliament will hear progress on the inquiries conducted on a range of issues impacting on the mandate of the MDDA.

Amongst these will be:

  • the outcomes of the industry led process of print media transformation which provides a holistic review of the effectiveness of mechanisms (including laws, regulatory structures etc.) in place to ensure accountability of the media.

The inquiry looked at reinforcing and balancing of the rights enshrined in the Constitution as well as investigations into the best international practices. It also explores the possibility of transformation commitments made through a media charter or related tools and assesses progress made following the interventions by Parliament into the transformation of advertising.

Honourable members,

The overall objectives of the MDDA strategic focus for the period 2013-2017 is informed by its vision “Access to diversified media for all” and mandate “Ensuring the sustainable development of a vibrant, innovative and people centred media.”

The MDDA will prioritise and focus its efforts in the following Key Result Areas as part of its Strategic Objectives:

  • Community Media,
  • Small Commercial Media,
  • Research,
  • Training & Development,
  • Monitoring and Evaluation,
  • Human Resource,
  • Communication,
  • Branding and Stakeholder Management,
  • Risk Management and
  • Internal Audit and Financial Management

Government will continue to support and uplift the work of the MDDA in order to make a meaningful impact in creating an enabling environment for media development and diversity.

This will be done with an end game in mind that allows public discourse to flourish and where a diverse, vibrant and creative media flourishes and reflects the needs and aspirations of all South Africans.

This may include possible amendments to the MDDA Act of 2002, as we celebrate 20 years we need to review the mandate. We also call to the parliament to restart the process of the establishment of the parliament television and radio as the law dictates that we should provide a platform to account and debate issues of national interest to the citizens of this country, in the meantime we should look at creative ways on how we can develop content for the DSTV Parliament Chanel, while waiting for the process of establishment to be finalised.

I take this opportunity to thank all the funding partners of the MDDA, who committed to support Government in the implementation of the Objects of the MDDA Act.

We urge that they continue their support for the noble cause of media diversity and plurality of voices and opinions. Together, we aim to increase our funding for the MDDA and fast track transformation of media in South Africa.

We need to build strong partnerships with all community media and all government in general, in order to achieve the 100% access to information as espoused in the 2030 vision of the National Development Plan (NDP), where all communities even in the deep rural can also enjoy 100% access to information.

I also thank the Board of the MDDA led by Ms Gugu Msibi who completed her 5 year tenure as a Chairperson of the Agency and the Management team led by Mr. Lumko Mtimde. The Agency under Ms Msibi’s leadership has been stabled, performed maximally and received unqualified audit reports. I wish the new Chairperson of the Agency Ms Phelisa Nkomo and the new Board members good luck.

In conclusion I want to leave you with this profound quote from a Bhuddist Monk " Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness".

This is therefore a call to all community, commercial and public radio stations to promote and instil values of social cohesion and patriotism among others in our communities.

I thank you!

Issued by: Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)

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