Government and communication

The mandate of the Government Communication and Information Systemis derived from Section 195(g) of the Constitution, which stipulates that the public should be provided with information that is timely, accurate and accessible. 

This is in support of the constitutional principles of freedom of expression, transparency and openness of government. The department is responsible for providing strategic leadership and coordinating government communication to ensure that the public are informed and have access to government programmes and policies that benefit them.

Chapter 15 of the National Development Plan (NDP) emphasises the need to unite all South Africans around a common goal, ensure that citizens are active in their own development, and build a capable and developmental state.

This is given expression by Outcome 12 (an efficient, effective and development oriented public service) and Outcome 14 (nation building and social cohesion) of government’s 2014-2019 MTSF, with which the work of the GCIS is closely aligned.

The department provides information about government policies, plans, programmes and activities to the public.

Among other things, the GCIS is responsible for maintaining government’s website (www.gov.za), which provides general information about government.

Among other products, the GCIS publishes the South Africa Yearbook, Pocket Guide to South Africa, Vuk’uzenzele newspaper, Public Sector Manager magazine and My District Today newsletter. It is also responsible for the South African Government News Agency, SAnews.gov.za.

The Thusong Service Centre Programme enables communities to access government information and services.

Thusong Service Centres are one-stop centres providing integrated services and information from government and other civil society groups, to communities close to where they live as part of a comprehensive strategy to better their lives.

They also also enable communities to access opportunities offered by other civil-society groups such as businesses, nongovernmental organisations and parastatals.

The GCIS also gathers public opinion, research and analysis of media coverage to understand the communications environment and to inform government messages.

The department provides media bulk-buying services, which are designed to reduce the cost to government on advertising; facilitate a rapid response mechanism to hasten government’s response to issues arising in the media; and provide media production services to support other government departments.

The GCIS was expected to assist the Independent Electoral Commission in driving campaigns around voter registration and Department of Home Affairs on ensuring that citizens have the correct documents to vote in the 2019 General Elections.

In August 2018, Cabinet approved the Government Communication Policy, which seeks to establish norms and standards to professionalise and strengthen the government communication system. This applies to communication coordination and use of alternative media across the three spheres of government and across government departments at a national level.