Following the adoption of Cabinet Memorandum 8 of 1997 in September 1997, the GCIS Secretariat was established. The Secretariat is characterised as:
- a strategising body located in the Presidency dealing with issues of government message, communication strategy, and corporate image a body to integrate, co-ordinate and rationalise the work of all communication structures in government.
It has already restructured the various sections of the old SACS to set up a service agency and improve media liaison and research. It will also delve into the neglected area of media policy.
The Secretariat consists of:
- Joel Netshitenzhe (Chief Executive Officer)
- Yacoob Abba Omar (Deputy Chief Executive Officer)
- Tony Trew (Chief Director: Policy and Research)
- Portia Maurice-Mopp (Chief Director: Media Liaison)
- Sefora Masia (Chief Director: National, Provincial and Local Liaison)
- Ilva Mackay Langa (Chief Director: Corporate Services and Communication Services Agency [CSA]).
Work started immediately. A process of consultations with the various elements of government communication was initiated. Meetings with the Communication Directors Forum, the Provincial Directors Forum and the Ministerial Liaison Officers (MLOs) Forum took place. The Government Communicators Forum is yet to meet. The first Government Communicators Consultative Conference took place on 6 May 1998 while a follow-up was held in October.
A thorough analysis of the organisation's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats was conducted, yielding two results:
- A list of key strategies and business issues facing the organisation.
- Action plans, proposed structures and budgets as drawn up by the various sections.
Some of the key strategic issues facing the GCIS (over and above those identified in the Comtask Report) include:
- strengthening the GCIS
- exploring strategies on making better use of radio communication
- developing improved distribution channels
- developing a communication strategy determining what expectations there will be of the GCIS for the 1999 elections.