Government and communication

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) mandate is to serve as the central communications agency of government, leading the reconstruction and development of post-apartheid South Africa. The GCIS 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 GCIS 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 GCIS has a responsibility to act in the interest of all South Africans, without discrimination and to communicate effectively in all official languages and reach all communities in urban, peri-urban and rural areas.

The GCIS reaches 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.

The GCIS 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 extensive reach into the country’s diverse communities.

The GCIS supports municipalities in their communication, with preference given to municipalities that are part of the Local Government Turnaround Strategy, to close the gap between municipalities and communities, which sometimes contributes to the factors behind 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 GCIS coordinates the Internal Communicators’ Forum, to ensure messages disseminated across the various channels and outlets managed by departments are coherent.

Providing and facilitating strategic government communication

One of the key functions of the department is to provide information about government policies, plans, programmes and activities to the public. Accordingly, the department plans to produce and publish 14 788 various communication products and reports over the medium term. This excludes the production and distribution of 18.7 million copies of 22 editions of the Vuk’uzenzele newspaper and 9 600 Braille copies of the publication in each year over the medium term. Vuk’uzenzele is a free national government newspaper. It is the only newspaper in the country available in Braille and all official languages.

Information published in Vuk’uzenzele focuses on key government priorities, such as issues affecting youth, service delivery and rural development, and includes advertisements for vacant posts in government. The printing and distribution cost of Vuk’uzenzele will amount to R87 million over the medium term.

The online version of the newspaper is due for further enhancement and improved usability.

SAnews.gov.za produces hard news and human-interest features, and carries many exciting pictures as well as video content on YouTube. It is also available on Facebook and Twitter.

The government news agency has become more popular with the public and it will continue to be marketed to the broader public as a complement to South Africa’s rapidly diversifying news and information mix. It has also entered into mutual-cooperation agreements with various foreign news agencies.

The department also plans to produce 36 analysis reports based on research surveys conducted on behalf of various national departments and premiers’ offices. These reports seek to provide guidance and assistance to government communicators in departments and premiers’ offices on how to develop communication strategies, and to understand the broader communications environment.

The department also drives a proactive and reactive media liaison strategy by hosting cluster and Cabinet media briefings, and communicating directly with the public through direct communication activities such as door-to-door, community workshops and gatherings in all provinces. These activities are carried out in the Content Processing and Dissemination programme, which has a total budget of R489.4 million over the medium term.

To reduce government’s cost of media advertising while maintaining the visibility of government’s communication campaigns, over the medium term, the department plans to provide media advertising bulk buying and media production services to other government departments. As such, the department aims to provide approximately 1 000 media advertising bulk buying services over the MTEF period; and annual media production services that include 1 000 photographic and video products and services, and 240 radio products and services. These products and services include advertisements, the hosting of talk shows, the compilation of voice-overs, and video and photographic services to client departments and public entities, and are funded through the communication budgets of the respective client departments and entities.

Through the Media Engagement Facility subprogramme in the Intergovernmental Coordination and Stakeholder Management programme, the department will continue to manage the interface between government, and commercial and community media. In doing so, it will, among other things, coordinate a support function across government departments on the occasion of key communication projects carried out by the president and deputy president, and for cluster media programmes.

The subprogramme also manages daily responses to issues in the communication environment through the GCIS rapid response function. To carry out activities related to interface management, R9.4 million is allocated over the MTEF period in the Intergovernmental Coordination and Stakeholder Management programme, which has a total budget of R402.1 million over the MTEF period.

The GCIS, through its media-buying operation, continues to support the financial viability of a diverse community media sector, by placing over R38 million in advertising in the community press, radio and television.

Facilitating active citizen participation

The department is committed to aligning provincial and local communications strategies to the national communication strategy framework. Accordingly, over the medium term, the department plans to conduct an estimated 9 300 outreach campaigns to improve public participation in government policies, plans, programmes and achievements.

These include the development of 1 140 development communication activations per year, 1 710 community and stakeholder liaison visits per year, and 252 marketing events at Thusong service centres per year. These initiatives are expected to deliver information to more than one million people per month through direct and indirect communication with citizens,

awareness campaigns. These activities are carried out in the Intergovernmental Coordination and Stakeholder Management programme at an estimated cost of R10 million over the medium term.

Over the same period, the department plans to continue the Imbizo programme, which facilitates interactions between political principals and the public, and develops content for print and electronic products, including leaflets during the State of the Nation Address. An additional R1 million in the Intergovernmental Coordination and Stakeholder Management programme is allocated over the medium term to carry out activities related to the Imbizo programme.

Other communications activities include compiling annual online editions of the South Africa Yearbook and Official Guide to South Africa, providing daily government news and updates on sanews.gov.za, updating content on government’s website (www.gov.za), and producing 12 annual reports on the performance of government’s social media accounts.