Collins Chabane - Budget vote of the GCIS

14 April 2010

14 April 2010

Collins Chabane - GCIS budget vote

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Mr Ismail Vadi
Honourable members
Honoured guests
Friends and comrades
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen                                                                                  

It is an honour and a privilege for me to once again address this House on the occasion of tabling the budget of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).

Over the past ten months, government has embarked on a new path of performance-outcome indicators intended to ensure that the Government machinery becomes more responsive to the needs of its people. GCIS plays a critical role in ensuring that the public has access to information on the programmes and plans of government that are meant to empower them to attain a better life. Most critically, the GCIS has to ensure that this objective is reached through optimally functioning communications units across all departments. These efforts give a true expression to our five-year core message:  “Working together we can do more”.

This is also an exciting year for all of us as the country hosts the first-ever 2010 FIFA World CupTM on the African continent. We should, and must, sustain this positive mood. We must maintain the enthusiasm this event has engendered and share with the world our humanity and tenacity to overcome the challenges that emerge from time to time.It is time to celebrate our diversity and to continue building a cohesive nation.  I would like to remind the house that we are 57 days away from hosting the best-ever 2010 World Cup tournament. Ke Nako!  

In this month of April also marks Freedom Day, which commemorates 16 years of our successful democratic order. As we celebrate Freedom Day on 27 April 2010, we can be proud of the resilient and maturing democracy that we have built together as a nation.

Honourable members, on this occasion of the GCIS Budget Vote, I have decided to dedicate my budget speech in this House to honour the memory of all our great leaders, and to implore all to rededicate themselves to the vision of building a better life for all South Africans.

As part of improving the government communication system to become more responsive to the needs of our people, the GCIS is implementing various new initiatives emanating from the review of the government-wide communication system. Communication between the citizens and the government is critical in ensuring the longevity and legitimacy of democracy and its institutions. A democratic developmental state is one that not only embodies the principles of electoral democracy, but equally ensures citizens’ participation in the development and governance processes.

The GCIS provides strategic leadership and coordinates a communication system to fulfil its core mandate of meeting the communication and information needs of government and the public. Furthermore, our mandate requires us to consistently ensure that the public has access to information on programmes, policies and opportunities created by government so that they can actively participate in the transformation agenda for a better life for all.

The GCIS also ensures that South Africa is effectively marketed abroad through the International Marketing Council (IMC), in partnership with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and state agencies such as South African Tourism (Satour) and the Trade Investment South Africa. GCIS also oversees the development of media diversity in the country through the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA).   

To date, the MDDA has funded 273 projects, amounting to R77 million worth of grant support. These include supporting community radio stations, community newspapers and other community initiatives with skills, seed funding, capacity-building and media diversity and literacy, amongst others. The MDDA will expand its focus on rural and poor communities who are marginalised from information and have limited or no access to information.

The main challenge for the MDDA is to put in place mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of these projects. The agency is exploring the development of hubs to support weak and struggling projects. This will include, where possible, building partnerships with established institutions in the area of media development.

We now turn our attention to what the GCIS is doing to fulfil its mandate. The GCIS has developed a five-year National Communication Strategy (NCS) for 2009 to 2014 that informs and drives communication priorities linked with the electoral mandate and based on the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). To ensure relevancy, the strategy is updated annually and highlights communication priorities that may have arisen in the course of the year. To ensure uniformity and collective implementation, the strategy has been presented the strategy to senior management of 27 national departments and all provinces.

At the beginning of 2010, an intensive communications campaign on the State of the Nation Address included the development, production and distribution of a mobilisation leaflet in all official languages, coupled with local community outreach events on the day of the speech. News clocks were produced and broadcast on all SABC television stations and e.tv, with the intention of creating awareness of the event.

This year the number of those who watched the live address increased from 2 040 000 in 2009 to 3 961 692 in 2010, a direct result of the change in the timeslot.  In addition, the GCIS facilitated the live community radio link-up of the address, the reply to the debate on the President’s State of the Nation Address, the Budget Speech, and “Talk to your Minister" shows reaching a total of 5, 8 million people.

The GCIS also coordinated the ministerial cluster briefings from the 19 February – 5 March which remain a critical platform for government to communicate implementation of its priorities. They provide a good platform for the Executive to interact with the media collectively and in a coordinated manner. The GCIS will ensure that visible implementation of government’s priorities, as aligned to the performance outcome approach, is communicated on a regular basis.

As indicated earlier, we are 57 days from the 2010 FIFA World Cup kick-off. GCIS will continue to lead efforts to ensure that government intensifies its communications to ensure that our role is clearly profiled and understood. Initiatives are being implemented through the 2010 National Communication Partnership comprising private and public sector communicators. We expect an estimated 15 000 to 20 000 media representatives, 300 000 ticket holders and a global audience of 26 billion people who will experience our country through various media.

Through our partnerships, the Fly the Flag and Football Friday campaigns were implemented in the run up to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. In support of these campaigns, the GCIS implemented a roadshow to Confederations Cup host cities which consisted of media engagements and interactive arts and culture activities with communities in various localities including on community radios. The campaigns were also championed through the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa. The partnership also mobilised the whole country to celebrate the 100 days count down and to continue to showcase our spirit of ubuntu and our anticipation to host the world.

The GCIS also developed high-definition audio-visual and print stories on government’s 2010 FIFA World Cup preparations and related developmental stories which were syndicated to media in South Africa and internationally.

We have taken the initiative to provide communication training to ministers, the initial phase was well received, with ministers already adopting some of the techniques towards enhanced communication. This communications capacity-building programme includes Deputy Ministers, Directors-General and leaders from provincial government. The GCIS is also in the process of developing a customised government communications curriculum together with the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy.

The GCIS also project-managed the launch of the public liaison office that includes the Presidential Hotline and the Public Participation Week in November 2009 which included ministers and deputy ministers, local councillors and, in some cases, senior managers.

The GCIS together with The Presidency, the Departments of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and of Arts and Culture is currently conceptualising the Public Participation Programme which will ensure that each ministry institutionalises this programme. In previous years, the two weeks of intensive communication, called Imbizo registered 340 – 459 events throughout the country. It is envisaged that with the new institutionalised Public Participation Programme we will have close to 1000 events throughout the year.  

Earlier this year, you had raised concern over lack of coordination with parliament of this important programme, particularly constituency offices. We have taken note of that and we will be starting to establish relations with all parliamentary constituency offices in the coordination of this progamme in our communities.

Honourable members to date there are 150 operational Thusong Service Centres throughout the country.   Strides have been made in partnership with the Department of Public Service and Administration in ensuring ICT connectivity in 55 centres, coupled with an installation of 39 prototype general service counters. This will assist in addressing the historical challenges of connectivity for centres, especially those in rural and remote areas. In the past year almost 5.6 million people visited the Thusong Service Centres for a variety of reasons, including accessing identity documents, birth, marriage and death certificates from the Department of Home Affairs; making applications for different types of grants from the South African Social Security Agency and accessing Unemployment Insurance Fund and other labour-related services from the Department of Labour.

The GCIS uses and develops targeted communications to ensure that we engage many South Africans. The GCIS coordinated and scheduled a link-up with 62 community radio stations to profile government economic opportunities that are meant to benefit the most marginalised and emerging entrepreneurs. In this financial year, the GCIS will include the use of public-broadcast radio stations, reaching a wider audience than the community radio stations.

Turning to the international arena, it is important for South Africa to expand and strengthen its communication and marketing activities in support of our missions abroad. To this end, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, the GCIS, South African Tourism, the International Marketing Council and the Department of Tourism will be developing a comprehensive international communications and marketing strategy, to guide and align strategic international communications with our stakeholders, including our missions abroad. This aims to also provide a system that will ensure prompt and informed government responses to negative stories that migrate across the international media. The strategy will ensure that Brand South Africa is sustained by communicating positive news outside our borders.

We have also ensured that interactive communication is accompanied by a multimedia approach to communication, using products and platforms that meet the needs and preferences of various sectors of the population. Social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook and MXit continue to be explored.

The GCIS will facilitate Cabinet interaction with the South African National Editors’ Forum and the Foreign Correspondence Association, to ensure that the media has access to the Executive as the highest policy decision-making body of government. These interactions are intended to ensure that media and the Executive can discuss issues of mutual interest, build better relations and fulfil their mandate of keeping citizens informed.

The government news agency BuaNews, has penetrated many international countries including Switzerland, China, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Latin America, Turkey, Brunei and Bulgaria. The agency also secured exclusive interviews with ministers and departments. BuaNews will also be used by South Africa Alive! magazine, which has distribution rights at OR Tambo International as travellers pass through passport control. This will ensure that we reach travellers, especially in light of the World Cup.

Vuk'uzenzele magazine continues to cover, among others things, government service-delivery projects, practical information on how to access and make use of socio-economic opportunities, government campaigns and programmes, local government issues, community development initiatives and light entertaining features. It has a print order of 1,6 million copies every two months, which is circulated in all nine provinces, largely door-to-door in deep rural and peri-urban areas.

The magazine is published in all official languages, but the majority of the print-run is in English. Findings from the GCIS Tracker Research on awareness of Vuk'uzenzele shows that nearly seven in 10 (67%) of the respondents indicated being happy with the magazine in English and other languages mostly spoken in their area. However, 18% indicated a preference for the magazine to be available in other languages or languages spoken in their area only. About one in 10 (9%) indicated that they preferred the magazine in English only. The magazine is also published in Braille for the visually impaired, while people in the higher end of the Living Standards Measures can access the magazine through the website.

The newly appointed International Marketing Council Board constitutes diverse sectors. The key focus of this board will be to ensure the marketing of Brand South Africa around the world, to achieve a common and homogenous South African brand, enjoying consistency and streamlined representation abroad.

Recognising the important role the media plays in shaping perceptions about South Africa, and in view of the growing focus on the country as it prepares to host the 2010 World Cup, the IMC has developed a web-based information service aimed specifically at journalists and communication practitioners who want to know more about South Africa. The website www.MediaClubSouthAfrica.com offers relevant, mind-opening, up-to-date and verifiable information on the country and its achievements.

The GCIS will continue to improve communication techniques, tools and methods based on scientific communications research to ensure that communication is targeted, responsive and relevant to the information needs of the people. Our research provides a mixed bag of results with an increasing view that while access to government information is improving; similarly more and more people still need information on government programmes.

Turning to the overall cost of communication as per the GCIS budget, I would like to indicate that the original budget allocation for 2009/10 was R481,995 million. After the adjustment estimate in October 2009, the budget increased to R496,780 million. At the end of the financial year, R495,4 million (99,7%) was spent. The bulk of the saving of R1,4 million (0,3%) relates to the following:

  • About R430 000 of invoices have not been received from the Department of Public Works regarding property management, such as lease of office accommodation, municipal services and accommodation charges.
  • An amount of about R169 000 is remaining for the branding of Thusong Service Centres.
  • Provision of about R125 000 was made in respect of the write-off of theft and losses.
  • An amount of about R255 000 was not spent in respect of the purchasing of capital assets due to the upgrade in the required equipment by  manufacturers.
  • These earmarked funds will also be returned to National Treasury.

Over the MTEF-period, expenditure will increase at an average annual rate of 1,2%, mainly due to R20 million per year that was allocated for a communication programme over the MTEF-period 2010/11 – 2012/13.

Due to baseline efficiency savings over the MTEF-period, National Treasury has reduced the budget of the GCIS with R11,414 million in 2010/11; R22,987 million in 2011/12 and R40,411 million in 2012/13. The total budget allocations over the MTEF-period are R546,184 million in 2010/11; R507,1 million in 2011/12 and R515,363 million in 2012/13.  

The GCIS has again just closed their 2009/10 financial year with a record 99,7% budget spent. This is commendable work which all of government should emulate.

In conclusion, the essence of “working together we can do more” must permeate all government workings to ensure that government, together with all sectors of society in their various forms, work together for a better South Africans.

Government communication will continue to pursue a developmental agenda in ensuring that implementation of government’s priorities has the intended outcome of impacting positively on the lives of all South Africans.  

I would like to offer a word of warmest congratulations to Mr Themba Maseko and his GCIS team for the impressive way they have run the GCIS budget.

Finally, I recommend that the House approves the GCIS budget.
Thank you.

Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)


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