Source: The Presidency
Title: SA: Zuma: Address by the President of South Africa, at a meeting with South African media owners, Pretoria
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Chairperson of Print Media SA, Prakash Desai,
Chairperson of the National Association of Broadcasters,
Ms Karen Willenberg,
Captains of the media industry,
Good morning to you all,
Thank you for joining us today in this first high level summit between the Presidency and media owners.
This session follows recent engagements with editors by the Deputy President, Honourable Kgalema Mothlanthe and another by the Minister in the Presidency, Mr Collins Chabane.
We felt it important to meet media owners this time, to discuss industry specific issues as well as government’s main priority for 2011, economic transformation and job creation.
We convened this meeting because we regard the media industry as being very important in our country. The media is an important communication tool for us as government, in addition to direct contact with the public.
The sector is also one of those that are important in the critical national task of nation building.
Your products - from newspapers, magazines, to radio stations and television channels, provide a platform or mirror to project South African life and society.
The content of the media may also influence economic growth and development, because how the media profiles the country locally could have a bearing on decisions that are taken by others outside the country about South Africa.
We are fortunate in South Africa, in that due to the selfless and resilient struggle for liberation by our people to secure the rights we enjoy today, media freedom and freedom of expression, we have a progressive Constitution which enshrines amongst others, media and freedom of expression rights.
We have to individually and collectively promote these hard won rights.
We reiterate our commitment to media freedom as government, and promote media freedom rights for both the public as consumers of media products, and the industry as producers.
Let me stress as well that all of us - government, society and the media industry - have a responsibility to develop a free and independent media in our country. We need to strive towards a media that is truly free of political, commercial, factional and other interests.
Also important is the need to promote diversity and transformation within the media industry.
I am sure we are agreed that ownership, staffing and content needs to reflect South African society in all respects. The Media Diversity and Development Agency, (MDDA), which reports to Minister Chabane in the Presidency, is tasked with promoting transformation, working with the industry.
We will discuss this aspect of our work today and need your views on how to implement the MDDA mandate more effectively with your support as media owners.
We are also in the process of transforming the International Marketing Council, which reports to the same Ministry, into an organisation that promotes the South African brand in a more focused and cohesive manner.
We will also be able to share some thoughts on how to maximise government marketing, part of the mandate of Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), which also reports to Minister Chabane.
As business leaders, you will no doubt have questions, which we will be happy to entertain both today and in our engagements in future.
We believe that consultations of this kind are a vital part of the discourse necessary for the deepening of our democracy.
We meet against the background of a lot of debate on the fight against corruption in the country.
Let me take this opportunity of our meeting to update you on what we are doing.
The fight against crime and corruption is one of the five priorities of our administration. We have identified corruption as a key threat to achieving government objectives, hence the intense focus by government.
We are making steady progress as a country in taking forward this fight.
During the past financial year alone, I issued no less than 18 Proclamations authorising the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to conduct investigations. This is the highest number ever in the history of the SIU.
Most of these proclamations focused on procurement related irregularities, as it is a major priority for government to deal with corruption in procurement, and to ensure better value for money.
In total, the SIU is currently investigating procurement contracts to the value of about 10 billion rand and conflict of interest involving officials estimated at five billion rand.
For the first time, these investigations included two Metropolitan Municipalities, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni. We are also investigating some municipalities in the Western Cape.
Other key investigations currently underway include that into the procurement of accommodation by the national Department of Public Works.
The SIU is also working closely with the police department to investigate procurement irregularities in the building of 33 police stations, worth approximately 330 million rand.
We are also probing irregularities in the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the Anti-Corruption Task Team, including the SIU, the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Asset Forfeiture Unit have identified land reform farms valued at more than R60 million that have been transferred unlawfully to private individuals.
Farms valued at about R36 million have already been recovered for the state.
We are also broadening the investigation into contracts for building low-cost housing. Another key on-going investigation is that into social grants fraud.
Government departments cooperate with the SIU and in most cases the investigations are instigated by the Ministers of these departments as part of the anti-corruption drive.
The Anti-Corruption Task team has also been working with the Department of Co-operative Governance to probe municipalities under the banner of the project Operation Clean Audit.
A total of 362 cases were received for investigation. To date, 291 arrests have been made.
Of that figure, 167 are public servants whilst 124 are members of the public and all have appeared in court. This effort has achieved 155 convictions, made up of 77 public servants and 78 members of the public.
There is a whole lot more investigations that are taking place within the public service as we are determined to achieve our goal of clean governance and value for money for our people.
As you are aware, we also recently received the report of the Public Protector into the lease agreements of police buildings, which Advocate Thuli Madonsela found to be invalid.
We welcome the reports and thank the Public Protector for her contribution to this on-going fight against corruption.
I asked Ministers to respond to the findings and recommendations and they have done so. I still need further information from them as there are some aspects that I feel need further clarity.
I will today submit my preliminary report to the Speaker of the National Assembly, to apprise him of what we have done so far in response to the Public Protector’s report.
Let me take this opportunity as well to update you on the matter relating to the appointment of a new Chief Justice of the Republic, who will replace Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo who will vacate this post on 14 August.
I have decided to delay the appointment in order to give greater effect to the provisions of Section 174 (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
Such provisions enjoin me to make my decision on such an appointment after having consulted with the Judicial Service Commission, as well as the leaders of political parties in the National Assembly.
I am satisfied that the interest of justice and that of broader society will better be served if we allow more time for meaningful consultation as this is a crucial decision impacting on the lives of South Africans.
I am equally satisfied that in the intervening period, the delay in the appointment of the new Chief Justice will not adversely affect the work of the judiciary.
The process will be concluded shortly after the departure of Chief Justice Ngcobo.
I must add that the reporting of the issue around the Chief Justice has been of concern. An impression was created that the Presidency may have infringed the law.
We state again for the record that the extension of the term of office of the Chief Justice was done in terms of an existing law, that was passed by Parliament unanimously 10 years ago and had been used to extend the terms of office of previous Chief Justices especially sections relating to age.
The section of the law we used was valid until it was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court.
It was unfortunate that some sections of the media gave the impression that there was an infringement of the law, which we felt it misrepresented the facts in this case.
Ladies and gentlemen,
You will recall that we declared 2011 a year of job creation and economic transformation.
Last year, we launched the New Growth Path, our road map towards meeting our economic objectives.
At last week’s cabinet lekgotla, we moved a step further and outlined a 12 point action plan to help us realise our service delivery and infrastructure objectives.
We established two Commissions, focusing on Infrastructure and Service Delivery Commission, chaired by the President and Deputy President respectively.
We will share the New Growth Path blueprint with you today as we need your views.
Once again let me reiterate that we value the opportunity of meeting with the top brass of the media industry today.
We look forward to today’s discussions and hope that we can anticipate future interactions of this kind to build understanding and partnership in building our country.
I thank you.