Armed with the vision for government communication drawn up by the Task Group on Government Communication (Comtask), the clear mandate given by the Cabinet and the enthusiasm of dedicated staff, the GCIS has been making huge strides in the establishment of a new government communication system.
The final Comtask report emphasised that government communication be seen as a system of dialogue. This shifted the GCIS's central priority from being a mere information service to an organisation which was both communicator and audience. Furthermore, its emphasis on structures which are streamlined, efficient and transparent have guided the GCIS top management as they set about the task of transforming the old into the new.
Inspired by the premium the Cabinet and Comtask placed on development communication, the Secretariat has spent many hours deliberating on how this can be implemented. We have no doubt that when the next Annual Report is presented, the character of government communication would be tilted towards those who live their lives largely out of touch with the rest of the country and thus democratic governance itself.
Another advance which shall undoubtedly feature large in this year's activities shall be better utilisation of strides made in information technology. The combination of the recently-launched government web site and the expansion of telecentres are like strobe lights for information-starved communities. Despite the many initiatives there is still a long way to go before we can proclaim that new technologies have helped bridge the gap between government and the citizenry.
The year under review has also seen a greater degree of professionalism in the relations between the media and government communication. We remain committed to a partnership aimed at keeping the public informed.
The GCIS moved quickly into the driving seat of government communication - perhaps too quickly given its limited capacity. It has nevertheless been able to provide a high quality communication service which can only be enhanced by the filling of the many posts found vacant when the new management was appointed.
This quality service has been made possible by the many hours GCIS staff have willingly sacrificed, by the guidance provided by the Deputy Minister in the Office of the Deputy President, Dr Essop Pahad; by the support of the Deputy President himself, and the Communication Portfolio Committee's interest. To all of you my heartfelt gratitude. It is with your assistance that the GCIS can give content to its launching slogan - 'BUA - THE RIGHT TO KNOW'.