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Address by Minister in The Presidency Mondli Gungubele, MP, on the occasion of the presentation of the 2022/23 Budget Vote of the Government Communication and Information

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Honourable Chairperson of this Mini Plenary,
Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Ms Pinky Kekana,
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communication, Honourable Boyce Maneli,
Members of the Portfolio Committee on Communication,
Honourable Members,
Director-General of GCIS, Ms Phumla Williams,
Members of the Management of GCIS,
Madam Speaker,

We are honoured to be presenting this Budget Vote of the Government Communication and Information System since my appointment as Minister in The Presidency by His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa. I want to dedicate this Budget Vote to the memory of the nearly 500 compatriots we lost in the recent natural disaster in KwaZulu-Natal.

I also dedicate this Budget Vote to those South Africans and international partners who came to the assistance of our people who were affected by the disaster in so many unfortunate ways.

This dedication is born out of our appreciation that the provision of information to the nation and to our partners globally; and our engagement with stakeholders at home and abroad, is about touching and transforming lives and our economic fortunes for the better.

Just a few weeks ago, I was deeply touched by the visit undertaken by our President, some of my colleagues in Cabinet and provincial and municipal leadership to floodaffected communities in KwaZulu-Natal. On that visit, we shared heartrending moments sympathising with bereaved and affected families.

From all walks of life, backgrounds and political persuasion, citizens, businesses and partners in the rescue and recovery efforts had questions that needed answering.

These were questions about how people could access relief and support services.

- Where do we report missing persons?
- How do we find out who is searching for our relatives?
- How will we find out if missing people are found?
- Who can help us with food or accommodation?
- Will government provide assistance with funerals?
- Will other schools take in learners from schools that are damaged?

These basic questions of survival and the necessities of life brought into sharp focus the responsibility that rests on the Government Communication and Information System as the centre of public communications in government.

This is also a collective responsibility that is shared by all clusters, departments and entities that make up the government communication system.

The disaster in KwaZulu-Natal reminds us that the effective dissemination of information based on engagement with communities and social partners is a key contribution towards healing psychosocial and physical scars, and restoring a decimated landscape.

This hour of difficulty also reminds us that effective communication has the ability to unlock the very real power of our national treasure of ubuntu, and to open the hearts and pockets of South Africans who want to reach out to people in distress.

Tragically, the floods of destruction in KwaZulu-Natal followed waves of COVID-19 infections that claimed many lives and livelihoods but which also fostered resilience, compliance and creativity in our nation.

Honourable members,

What I have outlined is part of the backdrop against which we are tabling GCIS’s 2022/23 Budget Vote today.

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) has been allocated R719,9 million for the 2022/23 financial year.

This allocation reflects baseline reductions of R37,5 million in 2022/23 and R5 million in 2023/24 and a baseline increase of R31,9 million in 2024/25.

The baseline reductions can be attributed to the fact that there is no additional allocation for the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out campaign compared to 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years.

Over the next three-year MTEF period (2022/23 to 2024/25), GCIS spending plan amounts to R2, 182 billion which is spread as follows:

- 2022/23: R719,9 million
- 2023/24: R714,9 million
- 2024/25: R746,8 million

The department’s current budget of R719,9 million for the 2022/23 financial year is allocated as follows:

- Operating budget of R461,8 million consumes 64,2% of the budget allocation. The operating budget caters for compensation of employees to the value of R282,1 million for funded establishment of 498 permanent positions and goods and services to the value of R179,7 million.
- Transfers and subsidies of R255 million consumes 35,4% of the entire GCIS budget allocation. Included in the transfers and subsidies allocation is R36,822 million allocation for the Media Development and Diversity Agency and R218,122 million allocation for Brand SA.
- Capital budget of R3,1 million consumes 0.4% of the budget allocation.

These funds are set-aside for the purchase of capital assets that will enhance the smooth operations of the department as well as improve service delivery mechanisms.

The funding provided to Brand SA and the Media Development and Diversity Agency will allow these two important entities to continue their work in support of the Presidents investment drive, our nation brand, social cohesion and to ensure a vibrant and sustainable community media sector.

The funding provided to the GCIS over the three-year MTEF period (2022/23 to 2024/25) will allow us to carry out the constitutionally mandated task of ensuring that all citizens and communities have access to information.

Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana will give a full account of the work of these two entities, however, I want to highlight a few important undertakings by the MDDA and Brand SA.

During the 2021/22 financial year, the inaugural Marketing, Advertising and Communication- B-BBEE Sector Council was established.

The main function of Council is to ensure that transformation in the MAC sector (including JSE listed companies) is promoted, monitored and reported on.

Furthermore, in the 2021/2022 financial year, GCIS developed a Draft Media Development and Diversity Amendment Bill which is expected to be finalised in the outer financial year.

During the 2022/23 financial year, working with the sector, the GCIS will facilitate the development of the Media Transformation and Diversity Sector Code.

Brand SA continues to build our nation brand and to market South Africa internationally.

Work continues to leverage on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) platform to ensure that South Africa and the rest of the continent can build a strong African reputation brand.

While existing initiatives such as Play Your Part are being expanded to focus on international audiences.

GCIS is keenly aware of the constraints on the fiscus that affect all components of government and we nurture the hope that economic reconstruction and recovery will in the foreseeable future place more resources at our disposal.

While we will not abandon our hope of a brighter budget, we are forced to acknowledge that after years of doing more with less, we are approaching the precipice of doing less with less.

We are therefore in a position where we do need to be strategically selective in what we choose to focus on without compromising the nation’s right to information. And we need to do so without stemming the flow of information to neighbours and partners on our continent and around the world.

GCIS’s content focus is built around the priorities President Ramaphosa set out in the 2022 State of the Nation Address, namely:

- overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic,
- a massive rollout of infrastructure,
- a substantial increase in local production,
- an employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods,
- the rapid expansion of our energy generation capacity.

To this we have added the shameful and tragic pandemic of gender-based violence which, in the past few days, has again visited horrific violence and death on families, including the family of a former Member of this House, Mr Godrich Gardee.

I trust, Honourable Members, that all of us are united in offering our condolences to the Gardee family as well as families just a few kilometres away from Parliament on the Cape Flats and further afield in the Northern Cape who have been struck by this social disaster. (INVITE MOMENT OF SILENCE)

Honourable Chairperson of the session,

The focal areas I have highlighted call for communication that is credible, compelling and competitive in the sense that our communications flow beyond our national boundaries into a global marketplace.

We will deepen the symmetry between proactive communications that will build the nation’s trust and pride in what government and our country is achieving, and communications that will particularly bring opportunities and hope to South Africa’s 12 million unemployed people.

We will deepen regular engagement with the nation through media and through direct interaction to demonstrate that we are a government of our word and we are a government in partnership with all sectors of society. This is the social compact to which the President refers.

Our content and form of presentation fights for eyeballs, airtime, readerships, viewerships and followings around our country, around our continent and around the world.

This means we have to respond to change and we need to be ambitious enough to set trends and practices that others could follow in the spirit of contributing, through communications, to a better Africa and a better world.

South Africa as a country and our President as a leader are significant and highly respected players in global affairs, and our communications must project and respect this reality.

The much-changed communication environment in the past two years has necessitated that GCIS fast-track the upskilling of the workforce to align the organisation to the occupational demands associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

It also required that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems had to be upgraded to provide the capacity for regular virtual / webinar meetings using various platforms.

It is self-evident that the numerous virtual platforms and social media platforms used by GCIS in this period will have to be maintained or further increased into the future.

This will go hand in hand with stepped-up face to face engagement. A number of Presidential outreach Izimbizo are planned for this year, and GCIS will continue to play a key supporting role in this regard.

Honourable members,

In the coming period GCIS will continue actively building on our many partnerships and collaborations to support our country’s efforts to vaccinate over 70 percent of the target population.

We will also continue to drive the message that vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalisation and death, and they remain our quickest path to normality.

GCIS will also continue to play a pivotal role in proactive campaigns such as KeReady and Vooma Vaccination Weekends, which have succeeded in driving higher vaccination numbers, especially amongst younger people.

On 09 December 2021, I joined my colleagues at the GCIS on a picket commemorating International Anti-Corruption Day. During this event we spoke on the importance of whistle blowers in the fight against corruption.

Many of the worrying revelations at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry were only brought to light because citizens stepped forward and told their stories. As government we know that there have been many occasions where we have fallen short. Public trust has been eroded and people are rightly sceptical at times.

As a collective we have vowed to do better and we must continue to do so. Corruption threatens to eat at the very soul of our young democracy, and has to end.

It is therefore heartening that government has made huge strides with a number of successful investigations by the SIU, as well as the forfeiture of assets. GCIS supported the anti-corruption drive by profiling our various anti-corruption initiatives and programmes on our suite of platforms, across media and social media, public engagements, and through comprehensive messaging.

The overall thrust has been to highlight positive interventions while also calling on the public to join the fight. Active citizens are the bedrock of any democracy and are key to greater social cohesion and nation building.

I believe our key task in this period is to ensure that no South African is left behind, in line with the President’s call to action in this year’s State of the Nation Address. Our communication must touch and change lives, while also being relevant and easily understood.

We dare not rest on our laurels by believing that what worked today will still be relevant tomorrow.

We cannot allow a new divide to be created between those with access to resources and technology and those without.

Our communication must therefore be a mixture of the old and the new. We must blend the best of both worlds and find ways to reach people where they live in a language or medium they understand.

We will deploy our tried, trusted and necessary direct engagement methods of Imbizo, activations, outreach activities, community dialogues and loud hailing.

Similarly Vuk’uzenzele newspaper which is distributed once a month in hard copy, with 850 000 copies per edition since October 2021 and published twice a month online is steadily changing lives.

The media sector as a whole has walked with GCIS and government every step of the way during these past two years.

They have covered every angle of the pandemic and have been instrumental in supporting the call to vaccinate.

They have been our partners in fighting vaccine hesitancy, dispelling vaccine myths and have tackled fake news head on.

GCIS has worked closely with our partners in the media on a daily basis either through media conferences, engagements, sharing of online content, webinars and the biweekly Cabinet media briefings and statements.

We intend to build on these relationships to ensure an informed, educated and ultimately active citizenry.

Honourable members,

A close companion on our journey of reaching out to the nation and the world is the esteemed Portfolio Committee on Communications.

This is a committee we respect deeply as the elected representatives of our nation.

It is a committee we respect for its commitment to the integrity and efficiency of government communications.

It is a committee we respect for its firm exercise of oversight and its creative exercise of making proposals that aid us in moving government communications forward.

It is a committee that is tough in its critique and generous in its appreciation of the work we do.

We thank the chair and Members from all parties for their support and guidance and we look forward to another year of partnership in the service of the nation.

I assure the committee that its commitment will be reciprocated by that of my colleagues at GCIS who will ensure that no-one is left behind as we talk to and with South Africans.

It is an honour for me to table the GCIS Budget Vote for 2022/23.

I thank you.