24 November 2005
Dr Danisa Baloyi, Chairperson of the Monitoring and Steering Committee
Ladies and Gentlemen
The transformation of South Africa
In the early 1990s as we set about formulating a programme for the reconstruction and development of our country, we knew that we were embarking on a total transformation that would touch every aspect of life in South Africa.
But the paths we would go down and the detail of what we would create, as well as the time it would take, were not known to us.
And that was precisely because what we did know is that transformation of any sector of the economy or society – real and lasting transformation - would require collective and creative action by many structures, formations and individuals.
But there was an understanding that even though people and organisations started from different places and with a variety of interests, they would all be seeking in different ways to implement the founding consensus of our democracy - namely that we would work together to overcome the legacy of a divided, discriminatory and oppressive society in order to build a society that is non-racial, democratic and non-sexist.
Transformation of the Marketing, Communication and Advertising Industry
We knew that days like today would come, but not just who would be here, in what combinations and after what detours and difficulties.
We could not have foreseen that you would have assembled so many parts into a Marketing, Advertising and Communication Industry that is today defining itself by a common commitment to the values, aspirations and objectives expressed in the Transformation Charter and Scorecard.
Nor would anyone have predicted that this sector of our society would be amongst the first to complete charters.
A shared achievement
It is a tremendous achievement and one that has particular significance in a sphere of activity that has such an impact on the public's access to the opportunities of democracy, and on how we define ourselves, in relation to one another, in relation to the world, and as a nation.
If we reflect on how this happened, we will perhaps understand that although it may seem to have taken a long time, with hindsight some of the conditions which proved critical have only recently come to place.
I would commend those giving collective leadership to the process that they slowed down when they had to rather than sacrifice the imperative of a comprehensive consensus, a People's Contract for the industry.
In this regard I would also say to those who have still to commit themselves and who are not signing today, that as government we feel confident that they will come to the same conclusion as those who have already made the decision.
We are confident that they will recognise that it is in their interest and the interests of their industry as well as the interests of our emerging South African society, that their voice and energies should be added to the driving force behind the goals of transformation.
Without detracting from the many contributions that made this possible – far too many to be able to acknowledge - we should first of all recognise the role of Parliament and its Portfolio Committee on Communications.
When the Committee responded to complaints of discrimination in the placement of advertising, it exemplified in practical terms what democracy means. It used its democratic powers not to instruct but to provide a platform for the industry to account to the public.
The hearings it convened helped to understand the complexities that go into the process that ends up as advertising and marketing in our newspapers and on our radios and TVs.
From then on the Committee kept faith with the perspective of a broad approach embracing all the disciplines across the value-chain.
They had understood that anything narrower would fail to bring transformation or to meet the expectation of the South African people that they should recognise their own experience in the products of advertisers and marketers.
When the process faltered the National Assembly, guided by the Committee, conveyed that same message. It is therefore most encouraging to have a message tonight from the from the Chair of the Portfolio Committee.
Advertising, Marketing and Communication
In that first bruising encounter it was the advertisers who took the brunt. They were therefore the first to take up the challenge and they have stayed the course.
Once the imperative of including the whole value-chain was established, the marketers played a key role.
It is a matter of regret that the difficulties of the Marketing Federation of South Africa became so critical that it has had to cease operating – and it would only be right to acknowledge its part in keeping the process on course at its lowest point.
All this underlines how robust the process has become – many of the participants and leadership have changed– but the march towards transformation continues.
Government is proud to have facilitated and I hope give direction. Several departments have contributed reflecting the complex interventions needed for real change – whether to do with communications and marketing; education and training, or employment equity, procurement and consumer protection.
Looking back, it is clear that a decisive moment was government's adoption of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment policy and strategy – at a critical point it provided a national framework that made it possible to overcome the hesitations.
Transformation, freedom and nation-building
What all this tells us is that progress towards transformation of the advertising, marketing and communications industry is not only the expression of an industry identifying with the aspirations of the people of South Africa as a whole.
It is in a very real and practical sense itself one of the fruits of democracy, made possible by liberation, by a democratically elected national assembly and democratic government as well as a society resolved to realise its aspiration for a better life for all.
In this sense therefore what we are doing is not only marking a critical milestone on the way to transformation.
Equally we are celebrating the freedom that has made it possible.
The occasion speaks to the mood that is abroad in our nation, with levels of confidence and a sense of emerging nationhood not seen since the heady moments of democratic transition, a mood which is increasingly reflected in the creative vigour of your industry.
This milestone of unity, this mood and this creative vigour can only help equip us to speak a common message when the attention of the world is drawn to our continent by the prospect of the 2010 World Cup.
Commitment to meet the challenges
There are many challenges ahead, not least the often very difficult task of practical implementation of commitments that may be more easy to express than to put in action.
But the Transformation Charter will strengthen all of us in our efforts to meet them by setting shared goals and a common approach to measuring progress.
There are still important steps to be taken before the Charter assumes its full force and authority. The Minister of Trade and Industry will need to assure himself that what is being signed meets the objectives of the Act and that the process has been representative.
The assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry in helping to ensure that the Charter is fully compliant with the latest BEE codes is therefore especially welcome.
The Charter Council will need to be established, but it is a sign of the real commitment that all the sectors have been busy making nominations.
As one of the role-players and through GCIS a signatory to the Charter, government is firmly committed to doing all it can to realise in a practical way the vision and the values of the charter.
We will play our part to the full in helping our country make the most of what is, when all is said and done, an opportunity to unleash to the full the special mix of economic and creative potential that this industry demands.
Minister in The Presidency, Dr Essop Pahad
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)