GCIS budget vote 2004

15 June 2004

  1. Introduction
  2. Communication milestones of the past year
  3. Taking stock
  4. Challenges in the second decade of freedom
  5. Communication in the financial year 2004-05
  6. Budget and establishment

I. Introduction

  1. The 15 months since the GCIS presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Communications of its budget for 2003-04, and indeed even the last six months since it presented its Annual Report for 2002-03, has been a seminal period for GCIS, as it has been for all of government. The period leading to the end of the first Ten Years of Freedom was a time to consolidate and intensify current programmes, to review progress and to prepare for the challenges of the Second Decade of Freedom.
  2. One product of this period is a new Portfolio Committee, and we welcome the invitation to make this presentation so soon after the committee has been constituted. Given the productive relationship we have enjoyed, an early opportunity to share strategic perspectives can only promote the achievement of shared objectives.
  3. We look forward to working with the Committee, together promoting the widest possible access of citizens to information about their government and its programmes so that they can be active participants in improving their own lives.
  4. As context to the strategic plan and budget being presented today, we would like to recall some of the milestones of our work during the past year and to share with the committee our reflections on the communication challenges of the Second Decade of Democracy.


II. Communication milestones of the past year

  1. Better co-ordination across government helped enhance the impact of communication around milestone events during the period 2003-2004.
  2. These included the Growth and Development Summit and its extended follow-up including a National Imbizo Focus Week on the theme of A People's Contract for Growth and Development. This, incidentally, was the largest ever Focus Week, with some 410 events involving representatives from all three spheres of government across the country. This compares with 170 events during the first Focus Week in October 2001, testifying to the extent that direct and interactive communication is becoming part of the fabric of governance and also to progress towards integrated communication campaigns across the three spheres of government. Working with other departments to further enhance imbizo forms a key part of GCIS plans for the future.
  3. Other major events requiring integrated communication across structures of government included the completion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process with the release of its final report and the distribution of reparation grants. The annual 16 Days of Action for No Violence Against Women and Children again extended its reach and impact - and there is every reason to expect that its impact will grow further this year too.
  4. The end of the First Decade of Freedom also brought together developments requiring integrated communication of several kinds.
    1. The Ten Year Review, managed by The Presidency, like the release of the results of Census 2001 a few months earlier, called for interaction across departments both with the public at large and with a range of researchers and stakeholders including the media, around the need to absorb new insights into our country's transition.
    2. Given the importance of the Ten Year Review for evaluating progress and assessing future challenges, GCIS paid particular attention to ensuring that the results of the Review reached as many citizens as possible in formats and languages they prefer.
    3. Preparing for the Ten Year Celebrations brought immense communication challenges for government: challenges of leadership, for truly national and unifying celebrations; challenges of the co-ordination of planning and implementation over a long period that for some departments such as those concerned with tourism, began as early as May 2003; and challenges of the production of publicity and branding material. The interface between celebrations within South Africa and those held in other parts of the world brought another challenging dimension. GCIS played its part through its work in support of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.
  5. The department was also central in the communication campaign around the 40th anniversary of Africa Day, and it is intimately involved in the integrated work of government to realise the objectives of the African Union and New Partnership for Africa's Development.
  6. More Multi-Purpose Community Centres (MPCCs) were opened during the period under review, bringing the total at the end of the financial year to 56 - all a result of co-operative efforts among national departments, provincial administrations and municipalities. Government is on course to meet the objective of 60 MPCCs by the end of the 1994 calendar year, with the aim of ensuring one such Centre in each district and starting the protracted programme to have one MPCC in each of the 284 municipalities.
  7. The MPCC programme has become increasingly integrated with other initiatives bringing government closer to the people. The past year saw intensive interaction with the Department of Public Service and Administration in preparation for the introduction of Community Development Workers and the launch of the Batho Pele e-Gateway. A joint effort with the Department of Trade and Industry saw the establishment at three MPCCs of pilot Business Zones hat bring information about economic opportunities and support services within easier reach of communities.
  8. The fact that the International Marketing Council and the Media Development and Diversity Agency will this year for the first time be submitting their own annual reports to Parliament is concrete testimony to the extent to which these two key initiatives, both depending on partnerships of government and civil society, have matured during the period under review. Both have taken giant strides in addressing their core mandates, as will be clear from their presentations.
  9. The process towards the Transformation of the Advertising and Marketing Industry has been moving ahead, drawing on the impetus given to it by the Portfolio Committee. It is firmly focused on building strong consensus within the industry on the process of transformation. A baseline empowerment survey has begun. It will help the industry set benchmarks and targets for transformation that will inform a balanced scorecard and a charter. Research is also in progress to update the Advertising Transformation Index that compares adspend against the composition of the population and audiences. All this work will inform the report which the Transformation Monitoring and Steering Committee will be giving to the Committee later this year.


III. Taking stock

  1. Government's capacity to meet the communication challenges of such major initiatives, as well as the ongoing work of communication in support of the implementation of government's Programme of Action, depends on continuing progress in key areas in the core mandate of GCIS - in particular strengthening the government communication system; widening access to government information as well as more broadly to the means of receiving and imparting information and ideas. Progress continued in these areas during the period under review.
  2. GCIS, like other departments, has had to engage in a longer-term assessment of progress in our work in the First Decade of Freedom (for GCIS, the five years since the Department was set up), as a foundation for addressing the communication challenges of the next decade. We therefore looked at those directives to GCIS which resulted from Cabinet's adoption of the recommendations of the Comtask Report.
  3. Access to communication and information as well as more generally to the means of receiving and imparting information and ideas, has been significantly broadened:
    1. The major initiatives for enhancing the infrastructure and environment of communication are making an impact. The MPCC programme has all but completed Phase I and is preparing for Phase II. The MDDA is established and functioning, as its presentation today will detail. The process towards the Transformation of the Advertising and Marketing Industry is moving forward. The internet is playing an increasing role in broadening access, both directly and through its support for MPCCs and other intermediaries - at our last budget presentation we reported 4,3 million visits to Government On Line since 1999: the number is now 8 million
    2. A substantial shift towards unmediated communication is both improving access to government information and affording citizens more opportunity to make their views and concerns known to government. This has involved Imbizo; more use of broadcast media, in particular African Language Stations; systematic use of big-screens to bring major events especially to rural areas, translating publications into all languages, including use of Braille and tapes for people with disabilities. Government-On-Line is promoting access to information both directly and through MPCCs, non-governmental organisations and community workers,
  4. We have a more effective government-wide communication system to promote coordination and coherence, compared with five years ago:
    1. A number of structures are providing co-ordination, including the Government Communicators Forum (three times a year); Pre-Cabinet Meetings; Communication Clusters; Provincial Heads of Communication meetings and the Ministerial Liaison Officers' Forum. Work towards strengthening local government capacity has been initiated.
    2. Cabinet/FOSAD leadership of communication, leading to greater coherence and integration, is being effected through an annual strategising cycle driven by Magkotla and the State of the Nation Address; monthly DG Cluster meetings in which a communication presence has been established; fortnightly Cabinet Current Affairs discussion and Bua Briefs; weekly GCIS Secretariat meetings and daily Rapid Response.
    3. Communication is informed by annual, monthly, weekly and daily research, monitoring and analysis of the communication environment, as Comtask recommended.
  5. International communication, another focus of Comtask, is getting more coherent, and helping to improve South Africa's image. The International Marketing Council is making its contribution to building consensus amongst South Africans on how we present ourselves to the world and helping co-ordinate the communications efforts of various state, public and private entities in marketing our country to the rest of the world.
  6. Relations between government and media have improved. Without obviating the natural tension between two autonomous institutions, the acrimonious interchanges of just a few years ago are a thing of the past.:
    1. More regular contact has been promoted between the Executive and media, including through the Presidential Press Corps.
    2. The SANEF-Cabinet Indaba led to a mutual commitment to improve relations as well as enhance skills and professionalism on both sides. Some Indabas have been held between provincial executives and SANEF.
  7. There has, therefore, been significant progress. At the same time our assessment is that in each of the areas of our core mandate, further and faster progress will be needed in the coming period so that the government communication system plays its part in further consolidating our democracy and taking the country onto a higher growth and development path.


IV. Challenges in the second decade of freedom

  1. The Ten Year Review concluded that if we are to reach the higher growth and development path then we need a major intervention to reinforce the consolidation of democracy with measures aimed at integrating all of society into a growing economy from which they can benefit. Given that conclusion, the question arose, how GCIS can enhance the government communication system and its operations in ways that contribute to that process. It is a matter of how in these conditions it can best fulfill its corporate mission to provide leadership in government communication and ensure that the public is informed of government's implementation of its mandate.
  2. Corresponding to the four broad national challenges of the next decade, are strategic communication initiatives that should catalyse a general enhancement of the communication system and its operation. These are now incorporated into the GCIS Corporate Strategy which has been provided to the Committee.
    1. Providing leadership in government communications and ensuring better performance by the communication system GCIS must take responsibility for ensuring government is communicating interactively with the public. GCIS needs to be at the forefront of analysis of the communication environment so that it can identify initiatives to be taken in enhancing the work of government and so that it is also able to respond effectively when required. Strengthening and integrating the government communication system remains of critical importance.
    2. Building a framework of communication partnerships informed by an encompassing vision around common development objectives
      GCIS must take overall responsibility for promoting an active partnership amongst all communicators, inside and outside of government, in articulating a shared vision and value system for a caring society and in broadening access to the means of receiving and imparting information and ideas. This includes improving relations with the media and with communicators in parastatal bodies and the private sector, including in international marketing efforts.
    3. Promoting awareness of the opportunities that democracy has brought and how to access them.
      GCIS will need to intensify the provision of basic information to the public about the rights of citizens and how to take advantage of government's socio-economic programmes as well as about the general process of policy development and implementation. Attention will be needed to improving the quality of information products, to broadening the platforms of communication and to enhancing the effectiveness of our distribution strategy in reaching all citizens, in every sector of society and every part of the country.
    4. Promoting awareness of the institutions and programmes of continental and regional integration and development
      Given the critical role of the regional environment and the development of our continent, GCIS should encourage and lead campaigns across government and society to enhance public awareness of developments in the region and the continent and promote engagement with regional and continental institutions and programmes. Sustained profiling of the benefits of African development to South Africa and the rest of the continent will receive special attention.
    5. Communication research and information
      In addition to the four elements above, corresponding to the four national challenges of the Second Decade, the government communication system as a whole also needs to give strategic weight to sound research. GCIS will play a key role in identifying areas of communications research as well as receiving relevant research reports from other sectors. Furthermore, intimate knowledge of government's policies, programmes and implementation is essential to further enhance communication.


V. Communication in the financial year 2004-05

  1. This then indicates the perspective that informs the strategic plan of GCIS, which informs the approach to communication during the current financial year, expending the Budget which will be debated by Parliament in a few days' time.
  2. In the first months of government's new term it will be of vital importance to disseminate as quickly as possible the detailed programme of action and timeframes which the President outlined in the State of the Nation Address. To this end there will a major multi-media transversal campaign in all languages. This will include a National Imbizo Focus Week during September.
  3. The thrust in government's programme of action towards growing the First Economy and concerted Second Economy interventions will require corresponding communication thrusts. Amongst other things this will need multi-media campaigns appropriate to the fact that the economically marginalised also tend to have least access to the information which they could use to change their situation. This would require new communication products including a mass publication on economic opportunities produced by the Economic Cluster which will be launched in a matter of weeks.
  4. Promoting partnership will be a continuing theme of government communication, receiving still more emphasis to build on the greater consensus around development goals and a greater readiness of social sectors to work together which are reflected in the positive mood in the country. This will include promoting participation of the public in implementing programmes to improve their own lives as well as promoting partnership with those sectors of society whose command over resources is critical to the success of policies for a growing economy. It will also include developing partnerships with communicators outside government as well as the articulation of values for a caring society by GCIS and other departments concerned with this matter.
  5. Enhanced unmediated communication and improved interaction with the media will both be pursued. The former will include building on progress in making imbizo an integral part of governance, amongst other things further integrating door-to-door interaction in imbizo.


VI. Budget and establishment

  1. What GCIS has done in the past year, and what it plans to do in the coming period, depends on the budget appropriated for that purpose, with the support of this Committee.
  2. The budget for the financial year 2003/04 was R178,5 million (including allocations to the MDDA and IMC). There was over-expenditure of R112,000 or 0,06%, equal to the required provision for Thefts and Losses. (Technically, this combines an over-expenditure of R1,6 million on Operations, and an under-expenditure of R1,5 million on Capital Equipment).
  3. The budget for the current financial year 2004/05, to be debated by Parliament on 18 June, is R203.1 million, including an increased allocation for the IMC and an additional allocation by he National Treasury for Tenth Anniversary communication.
  4. In terms of the GCIS establishment, the total number of staff complement should be 432. For this financial year 381 are funded while 51 are unfunded. At the moment the filled posts are 357 of which the male/female ratio is Male 49,3% and Female 50,7%, and in senior management Male 61.5% and Female 38,5%. With regard to people with disability, we are at 1.7%, compared with the government-wide target of 2% for 2005. The demographics in terms of racial composition are as follows: 72,5% African, 15,4% White, 9,5% Coloured and 2,5% Indian - in other words, more or less reflective of South African society.
  5. As indicated, the use of these funds and our human resources over the period covered by our strategic plan will be informed by the strategic perspective outlined above. That perspective in turn is informed by the mandate and programme of action of government.
  6. The ultimate objective remains an informed citizenry who are active agents in shaping their own lives and the future of the nation together. The challenge is to make further progress towards this end, as part of our nation's efforts to consolidate our democracy and to move to a faster growth and development path.


Speech date:: 
Tuesday, June 15, 2004