Deputy Minister Tandi Mahambehlala: Communications Budget Vote 2017/18

26 May 2017

Honourable House Chairperson;
Honourable Minister of Communications
Leadership of the entities,
Distinguished guests,
Fellow South Africans.

As we mark Africa Month it would be remiss of me not to condemn the high concentrations of patriarchy; misogyny; and the concerted violence against women and children. I stand here as a Woman and invoke the words of the immortal African Revolutionary Thomas Sankara and I quote “The revolution and women's liberation go together. We do not talk of women's emancipation as an act of charity or out of a surge of human compassion.

It is a basic necessity for the revolution to triumph. Women hold up the other half of the sky.”  Men must know that women play an integral part in our society, any form violent abuse and oppression against them is a betrayal of the African revolution and its values.

House Chairperson

Honourable Chair and honourable members the call to build a better Africa starts here with us. During the State of Nation Address President Zuma articulated a problem that plagues our society. “Twenty two years into our freedom and democracy, the majority of black people are still economically disempowered. They are dissatisfied with the economic gains from liberation. ”

Fellow South Africans, President Zuma’s call for radical and socio-economic transformation is the call for industries to reflect the composition of all those who live in this country. It is a call for South Africa not to be ruled by a Corporatocracy, an economic and political system controlled by corporate interests a partnership of “too-big-to-fail” corporations the media, the extremely wealthy elite, and corporate lobbyist masquerading as members of parliament or representatives of the people.

This will ultimately create a totalitarian state wherein external interest dilute or make a mockery of our democracy.

Honourable Members

As the Ministry of Communications our role is not only to articulate what radical socio-economic transformation means but also to implement it in the industry through various entities we oversee. Our interventions as a ministry need to form the basis for structural transformation in the media industry and through the NDP we are required to transform the psychological structure of our society by creating an environment in which social cohesion thrives and nation building is the order of the day.

This will not be achieved by casual and sentimental activities. We must be committed to one simple cause of action, that is the implementation of the Freedom Charter in its truest form. Our people can no longer stomach the modification of an economic system they did not design.

Fellow South Africans,

The Minister, has entrusted me with the full responsibility of working with Films and Publications Board to ensure that the television content, games and films consumed by our children is suitable for their consumption.

In the next month we will mark the opening of Child Protection Week. With the evolution of technology and digitisation of broadcast media it is critically important that our society is educated about, the role of FPB which is to ensure that our kids interact with suitable content amongst other things.

This nation has a long history of socio-politically motivated violence which has sustained itself in many parts of the country. This is evidenced in the high occurrence of criminal violence, with severe consequences for children. This requires us government to have an intersectional and integrated collaborated response.

Through the work of the Film and Publication Board we are at the forefront of safeguarding our society from harmful online content which is made more accessible due to the greater access to information and services in the digital era.

To combat the prevalence of explicit online content the FPB is intensifying its awareness campaign to empower citizens; particularly children on being responsible digital citizens.  The Board will roll out cyber safety awareness campaigns in six provinces targeting 200 parents, 800 learners and up to 400 educators.

Research commissioned by FPB with the University of South Africa (UNISA) has shown that children have been desensitised to violent content while adults no longer concern themselves with violence in the media. This is of particular concern as close to 40 per cent of films and games rated by the FPB contain mild to extreme violence.

But there is hope fellow South Africans, in a first for the African continent, the FPB in collaboration with UNISA has established a Content Classification academic qualification that will improve the quality of education and skills development in the sector.

This will benefit society and provide a more efficient service to customers. The FPB has commenced implementation of its Online Content Regulation system that moves the organisation away from manual processes that often resulted in backlogs.

The FPB is working closely with our law enforcement agencies to enforce compliance. Last year 39 441 CDs and DVDs valued at R3.9 million were confiscated.

As the Ministry we will work closely with the portfolio committee to make amendments on the FPB amendment Bill, I encourage all South Africans to participate in the consultations process. It is through these conversations that we as a country can articulate our values and norms, and how we would like to see them reflected through the media content we consume.

Compatriots

In the gallery we have cast members and the producer of award-winning South African feature, Kalushi. This film won the Best Film award at the Luxor African Film Festival in Egypt. Furthermore Thabo Rametsi's portrayal of Kalushi earned him the Best Actor accolade BRICS international film festival in India.

This extraordinary film tells the story of Kalushi, also known as Solomon Mahlangu. Kalushi a young man stood up bravely against the Apartheid regime, and was hanged by the unjust apartheid regime in the gallows at Pretoria Central Prison on the 6th of April 1979. Coincidently the 6th of April happens to be the day upon colonialism in the form of Jan van Riebeck descended on our shores.

It is Kalushi’s statement which keeps the desire in us to ensure that South Africa becomes truly liberated and I quote “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them.

They must continue the fight.” Amongst us here today we graced with the presence of the generation of Kalushi, Mr James Ngculu the commander of Umkhonto we sizwe who was in the trenches with Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, I must say I have been honoured to have been mentored by Mr Ngculu a stalwart who never be forgotten in the history pages.

We are Kalushi and Kalushi is us.

Biopic films of our national heroes form part of a vital historic narrative that tells the story of our country’s proud resistance to colonialism and Apartheid.  These stories are relevant to all our generations, including young people searching for answers, and seeking inspiration from our own national stories.

I would like to congratulate the following individuals (could they please stand has I mention their names) Mr Mandla Dube who is the director of this movie unfortunately he could not be with us today, Mr Walter Ayres The producer of this film and all of the actors who represented by Mr Zweli Dube.

Honourable Members Zweli Dube portrays the character of an exiled commander of the people’s army Umkhonto We Sizwe.

I am pleased to announce chair that this Ministry will also play its part over the next couple of months, we will be working closely with the team to screen Kalushi in communities whom traditionally would not have the means to view this film. In so doing we educate communities about a fundamental part of our history and use it as an opportunity to share awareness on how film content is classified by the FPB.

Let me remind you that we have duty to support the producers of local content in the arts and other industries. In so doing we draft our own narrative and  also create jobs in local industries as well as a brand identity for our young democracy.

Honourable Members

Broadcasting Digital Migration remains a flagship programme of the department as it helps us realise our vision of building a people centred and inclusive information society.

We will ensure that our country makes a seamless transition from analogue television to Digital Terrestrial Television, we will target the indigent people of our communities. I am referring to those amongst us who are on the outliers of society. In essence chair, what I am conveying to South Africans today, is this: If you are in the deep rural areas, of South Africa whether it is in Zeerust or Umhlaba-uyalinga, the Ministry of Communications is coming to you.

We must also enrich the debate around the migration to Digital Terrestrial Television. Digital Migration has been dominated by a series of analysis most considerably how certain aspects of the policy currently in place will affect certain corporations. But I want us to pause and understand one fundamental aspect about Digital Migration that it has the potential to bridge the digital divide between the rich and poor. It is about ensuring that the poorest amongst us have access to quality diverse content.

We will be embarking on focused awareness, distribution and installations campaigns in the North West, Mpumalanga and Free State Provinces to increase our current Set-Top-Box rollout and have at least one million households connected on the digital platform by December 2017.

The rollout of the programme revitalises the electronic manufacturing industry through the local manufacturing of the Set-Top-Boxes, DTT Aerials and Satellite Dishes and will see South Africa leading the continent in the manufacturing of Integrated Digital Television (IDTV).

A proper implementation of the DTT programme will ensure that all South Africans are part of the digital revolution, particularly those in the community media space. This means community radio stations can expand their broadcasts across the country.

In the past month I have visited a number of community radio stations across the country amongst those were Cape Town TV, Emalahleni FM and Newcastle FM Community Radio station, during my visit, I learnt that the digitisation of media platforms is the fast becoming the future of this industry and we need to start preparing society for this impending change

Honourable House Chairperson

Through BrandSA and other entities we will communicate strongly about the issues like this, issues that empower us. We all have the collective responsibility to celebrate our nation as we attend to the problems that plaque us. Through programmes like play your part we will continue to call for active citizenship, and encourage South Africans from all walks of life to spend their time, money and skills to contribute to a better life for all and make a positive difference to our communities.

Honourable Members

For many years our own narrative has been systematically excluded from the media industry. Through an effective Media Diversity and Development Agency will empower previously disadvantaged communities to ensure that their voices are heard on all platforms. In addition we will ensure that government spending is directed to empowering young community media practitioners, this will ensure that we facilitate the growth of small businesses.

Parliament itself is an institution that could empower small local media print platforms in the Western Cape by ensuring that they are granted equal access to parliament on the same scale as commercial media, to enable these important media platforms to report directly on the activities of parliament to our communities. As we create laws chair it is important to use a media platform that can reach members of society in the most rural areas of South Africa so that they too can publically participate in the legislative process.

A fully functional MDDA should be the gateway of creating a new class of media entrepreneurs. The agency should be active, in honing management skills which are dramatically lacking in the community media sector, the grants issued by the agency often backfire by creating a situation of dependency that cannot be sustained over the long term.

Under our leadership we will put measures in place to ensure that community media projects supported by MDDA must ultimately be self-sustainable. Honourable Members our media will only be transformed when media companies are capable of sustaining and developing their activities with their own revenues. Only when our media are free of outside influences, can they be said to be truly independent.

We will monitor and encourage the commercial media who are by legislation required to pay a subsidy towards the MDDA to ensure their commitments, thus growing the funding base through which the MDDA can improve its effectiveness and impact.

This is why, though the agencies primary activity is to provide grants to community media practitioners, it should begin to function more like a venture capital fund that enters into a close, involved and long-term relationship with its applicants. The application process for grants must be reviewed, it must force those seeking the agencies support to come up with a realistic appraisal of their commercial situation and a detailed business plan which must be subjected to a due diligence test and explanation of how these grants will facilitate job creation.

Honourable Members our government is the only one which is capable of creating a united, democratic and non-racial society. This is the vision which Oliver Tambo unashamedly advocated for. We can and will achieve Oliver Tambo’s vision of South Africa, this is a South Africa in which black and white live and work together as equals in conditions of peace and prosperity.

As we move forward, we must never forget the vision that Oliver Reginald Tambo shared with us. I quote: “Our responsibility is to break down barriers of division and create a country where there will be neither Whites nor Blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity."

This vision is reminder that “Oliver Tambo has not died, because the ideals for which he sacrificed his life can never die.”

Communication allows us to transcend the barriers and division. It allows us to leapfrog our economy and society forward. Government will not rest until the fruits of democracy are enjoyed by all.

To achieve this we need a financially strong and interconnected Ministry of Communications, I therefore move for the support of this budget vote.

Finally, I would like thank our two Acting DGs and staff at my department and reporting entities, together with the Minister we will continue to provide strategic leadership and roll up ourselves resolve the hard our work that lies before us.

I thank you.

Issued by: Department of Communications

Speeches: 
Year: 
2017
Speech date:: 
Friday, May 26, 2017