Government and communication

Introduction
Budget
Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA)
Brand South Africa
 
 

Introduction

The Department of Communications' (previously known as Government Communication and Information System - GCIS) mandate is to serve as the central communications agency of a relatively new democratic government leading the reconstruction and development of post-apartheid South Africa namely a government communication system that mobilises the nation behind the NDP, showcases progress and invites South Africans to work together to address challenges is critical to the achievement of Vision 2030.
 
The Department of Communications (DoC) is responsible for informing all citizens of South Africa about government’s work and how they can participate in governance and consolidating the country’s democracy.
 
The DoC has a responsibility to act in the interest of all South Africans, without discrimination and to communicate effectively in all offi cial languages and reach all communities in urban, peri-urban and rural areas.
 
The DoC has reached millions of South Africans through different platforms which include publications, the news media, radio, television and izimbizo.
Cabinet directed the department to reposition the Thusong Service Centres programme to widen government access.
 
Repositioning means the department, working with partner departments, will have to look at the possibility of identifying the suitable structure, platforms and partnerships to effectively fulfil the mandate of the programme, which is not only limited to information.
 
In 2013, the department expanded citizens’ access to information and services, including the use of integrated mobile units where key service departments sign up people for services and provide information. Mothers and grandmothers in urban and peri-urban areas are now able to register for social grants, and apply for identity documents and certifi cates through Home Affairs within their localities.
 
The DoC continues to enhance existing communication platforms and products, and initiate new ones to ensure that targeted audiences and communities receive relevant information through various means.
 
It is also establishing partnerships with strategic stakeholders within the three spheres of government, and within broader society, to achieve more.
 
Using various platforms, just over 3 000 communication projects have been implemented in the most remote corners of the country, reaching more than 23 million people since 1994.
The partnership with the Phelophepa health train of Transnet alone visited 24 train stations in four provinces and served around 380 000 beneficiaries.
 
The DoC supports municipalities in their communication, with preference given to municipalities that are part of the LGTAS, to close the gap between municipalities and communities, which sometimes contributes to the factors behind unlawful protests in some communities.
 
The department has a mandate to ensure that government’s vision and policies are clearly understood in the public service. The DoC coordinates the Internal Communicators’ Forum, to ensure messages disseminated across the various channels and outlets managed by departments are coherent.
 
Communicating government information is not the primary business of the public media. Vuk'uzenzele, a free national government newspaper, continues to gain traction among its target audience with a monthly circulation of 1,7 million.
 
In 2012/13, some 20,4 million copies of Vuk'uzenzele were distributed in deep rural, rural and peri-urban areas. Vuk’uzenzele is the only newspaper in the country available in Braille and all offi cial languages. The online version of the newspaper is due for further enhancement and improved usability. The online edition has attracted a remarkable 483 533 hits since April 2013.
 
SAnews.gov.za produces hard news and human-interest features, and carries many exciting pictures, video content on YouTube. It is also available on Facebook and Twitter.
 
The government news agency has become more popular with the public as opposed to the media and it will continue to be marketed to the broader public as a complement to South Africa’s rapidly diversifying news and information mix.
 
The DoC, through its media-buying operation, continues to support the fi nancial viability of a diverse community media sector, by placing over R37 million in advertising in the community press, radio and television.
The milestones of 20 Years of Freedom, the fifth democratic general election and the millennium development goals (MDGs) are among the important topics covered in 2014.
 
 

Budget

Over the medium term, expenditure is expected to increase from R396,7 million in 2013/14 to R430,8 million in 2015/16. The increased spending will mainly be in the administration programme and will be used for information technology (IT) costs and office accommodation costs. The DoC was allocated additional funding of R19,1 million over the medium term.

As an additional savings measure approved by Cabinet, the DoC budget was reduced by R3,9 million in 2013/14, R8,3 million in 2014/15 and R13,1 million in 2015/16.

 

Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA)

The MDDA was set up by an Act of Parliament, Media Development and Diversity Agency Act (Act 14 of 2002) [PDF], to enable historically disadvantaged communities and people not adequately served by the media to gain access to the media. Its beneficiaries were community media and small commercial media.
 
To achieve its objective, the MDDA encouraged:
 
  • ownership and control of, and access to, media by historically disadvantaged communities and historically diminished indigenous language and cultural groups
  • the channelling of resources to community and small commercial media
  • human resource development and capacity-building in the media industry, especially among historically disadvantaged groups
  • research regarding media development and diversity.

Brand South Africa (Brand SA)

Charged with marketing South Africa at home and abroad, Brand SA’s focus internationally is to positively influence and shape perceptions about South Africa among target audiences.

The new slogan, “South Africa: Inspiring New Ways,” is set to represent the next phase of the country’s development, where South Africa has moved from possibility to delivery, and is now an important regional power.

Internationally, Brand SA lobbies and networks extensively among global opinion leaders to shift perceptions about the country and the continent.

Being a member of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa trade bloc (BRICS), for example, provides a platform to engage and infl uence perceptions.

Brand SA also regularly brings groups of international journalists to the country to interact with the South African Government and business representatives, experience local life and culture, and learn about the country’s latest technological developments.