Themba Maseko - Government Communicators Awards

11 December 2009

11 December 2009

Thank you programme director for this opportunity to address fellow government communicators. Tonight, we are honoured to be joined by our Minister in the Presidency who is also responsible for GCIS, Minister Chabane. I would like to welcome you Minister to the 8th Annual government communicators’ awards. May I also take this opportunity to welcome all communicators and their partners, our sponsors and the panel of judges that decided today’s winners.

Today we are celebrating enthusiasm, commitment and sheer hard work. Enthusiasm is often a neglected force, yet without it there would be few achievements

We are all also part of the enormous energy and spirit that is churning around the world in anticipation of the first African FIFA World Cup! I know that we will all ensure that government communication monopolises on this buoyant period in placing South Africa as a country of choice!


Today we are honouring those who asked the most difficult questions and committed themselves to finding the answers. Such questions if well answered will surely assist government in ensuring that we have a well informed citizenry that can take part in its governance. We are honouring those who did not adopt old unresponsive strategies to new challenges, but to those who successfully burnt the midnight candle and tirelessly ensured that the public are kept abreast of the developments within their country. Tonight we will be presenting awards to the winners who wouldn't take "No" for an answer and persevered when the demand for information from communities grew to unlimited proportions.

Communication is the key to success in today's interconnected world. As a leader in government communications, GCIS together with those stakeholders that are cooperative is able to draw relevant strategic approaches that can help to better steer communications to a level where it is well understood by our target audiences. Drawing on our expertise of the past 10 years as government communicators we can surpass current communications hurdles by making use of communications research and exploring innovative ways to transcend government communications into one that not only supports but also realises the vision of our government.    

This means ensuring that we develop content as impact messages that are prompt and clear and communicators that are readily available to communicate, even on a Sunday! We must also ensure that we do not lag in the modern technological age and start, if you have not already done so, to utilise social media to reach not only our young people, but also ensure that our voice is heard in the global village.

Whilst it is easier to communicate successes, the litmus test for communicators comes in articulating challenges within context and in a manner that the audience can relate to and understand. As government communicators we need to be information sponges, not just for our mandating departments but for government as a whole. An uniformed communicator is a dangerous communicator!

As government communicators we must never be deluded that we work alone, our work would not be possible without the tacit and explicit support and encouragement from the rest of government and other stakeholders. Our gathering her tonight in recognition of outstanding performance is evidence of that.

Today we have the right to celebrate because together, we have enabled principals to communicate with our mandating citizenry to whom we are all ultimately accountable to.

Awards come in many packages, but they all motivate and inspire good work, but the value of an award is immeasurable to the one who receives it. Who among us would not value a climactic moment of clutching an engraved symbol of recognition, and the audience congratulating you? Today we are here to make sure that many dreams come to fruition as we are about to congratulate those who worked hard throughout the year.

The GCA honors and recognises excellence in government communications, signaling to many who might otherwise not know, that government communications is an important element of this government.

As far as I know, awards have brought happiness and joy to many who have walked the tight rope before. Many who have won the government communicators awards have benefited and are currently the most sought after communicators in the country. But it is important to note that awards come with increased expectation and responsibility for those who have won. The winners need to ensure that they uphold themselves as role models to the majority of communicators within and outside government and even those inspiring to enter this profession.

Communications is an integral part of policy development and implementation, which means that that there is a wider and more ambitious remit for government communication. We need to move on from a culture of announcement – where the Minister makes an announcement once the policy is developed and cuts a ribbon – to a culture of regular information provision – where communication informs all stages of the policy making process. This means that we should focus more communication effort and resource on interpreting national policy into what it means for people locally

One of the main criteria for winning the award tonight is that a department or a campaign must have a comprehensive communications strategy. The time of having communications that is not guided by a strategy are now over! We need to be skillful in leveraging the arm of media, especially local media, to support us in our communication initiatives.

This is motivated by the fact that government communication does not just tell the world what government is doing, but ensures that the public is at the centre of policy development and service delivery.

We need to plan and approach communication with our audience in mind. If we use the right language, listen to the views and reactions of the public and other stakeholders and communicate in ways that are trusted and appropriate for each group, we stand a good chance of being heard by our stakeholders.

Today we thank our sponsors for their encouragement and support (Mercury Media, SABC, ESKOM, Delivery Magazine of local government, Standard Bank and ITEC). They have given their undivided support to these awards because they know that our work makes the “Working together we can do more” future a reality. They have faith in what we are doing and in what they know we will continue to do.

In the world of communications, it will always be impossible to say that you have all the answers; as such we continue to seek answers to complex solutions that we are constantly experience.  Finally, I know that we can build a responsive communication system, for as long as we continue to work together.

We have entered the festive period; the multitude of our people will be driving on our highways and bi-ways to various destinations to enjoy their holidays – please let us spread the message of peace and safety during this period.

Remember to drive safely during the festive season, buckle up, don’t drink and drive and arrive alive. I wish you and your families a safer festive period.

Themba Maseko
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)


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