The Minister in the Presidency,
Honourable House Chairperson,
Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
As we table the Government Communication and Information System 2022/2023 Budget, let us reflect on a year that has showed the resolve of South Africa, our people and this Government. Most recently, devastating floods hit several parts of our country causing a tremendous upheaval in the lives of our people, mostly in KZN, who was still in the process of building back after the riots, less than a year ago.
Ravaging floodwaters and the endless COVID-19 pandemic, proved though, that yet again, when we stand together as one nation there is no challenge that we cannot overcome.
We heard inspiring stories of citizens who risked their own lives to save others, and how communities across geographical, racial, and cultural divides came together in support of one another. The helping hands and brave actions that the whole world bore witness to, crystalised President Cyril Ramaphosa’s concluding words of the 2022 State of the Nation Address when he said, that we should leave no one behind. The one silver lining in the midst of any crisis in South Africa, is that we don’t talk about Ubuntu, we live it.
Honourable House Chairperson,
During these testing times, our nation’s communication system, spearheaded by the Government Communication and Information System, GCIS has been at the forefront to ensure that South Africans are kept abreast of critical developments and interventions.
Communication became an essential tool as it provided reliable information that enabled residents to access government support and make informed decisions. GCIS convened the communication workstreams consisting of government communicators to provide accurate, useful and up-to-date information frequently to assist those affected by the floods, while at the same time ensuring that the media network in the country was well informed of all official undertakings and processes.
We will continue to use the power of communication to support the rebuilding efforts, and in the same way draw all South Africans into a united and focused national drive on the President’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, towards a prosperous South Africa, that we can one day say – we ‘built, back, better’.
GCIS will build on the commitment of the 2022 State of the Nation Address that affirmed our nation’s path to stabilisation and recovery, empowering South Africans with information, to become agents of meaningful change, fulfilling our constitutional mandate.
The work of Brand South Africa remains crucial in ensuring that South Africa is positioned to strengthen our competitiveness and effectively bring the world to our door. As such, we will invest R33 million to drive Brand SA activities that contribute to social cohesion, national pride, and active citizenship, through the Play Your Part programme.
We must create favourable conditions to attract both domestic and foreign investment, tourism, and optimised trade relations with other countries. Therefore, the main thrust of the programme will be promoting constitutional values, encouraging entrepreneurship to boost the economy and job creation, and doubling efforts to deal with the issues that negate our nation brand’s reputation.
Brand South Africa will invest R63 million in activities that advance our country’s nation brand reputation to improve our global attractiveness and competitiveness.
In doing so we will support our drive to attract foreign direct investment as part of the government’s work to re-ignite economic growth and create much-needed jobs.
Through targeted marketing campaigns of "We invite you to believe in SA" and “Think South Africa, Think opportunity”, we will positively position our nation with international, regional and domestic investors.
The campaigns will bring to the fore South Africa as a strategic entry point for investors, through the African Continental Free Trade Area or AfCFTA, and we will optimise these campaigns through support of programmes for example, to train One Million women and youth on the AfCFTA by 2025.
We will also use our nation’s participation in the World Economic Forum, Mining Indaba, BRICS and United Nations General Assembly to position South Africa as a trade and investment partner of choice. This will be complemented by our growing brand advocacy through the Global South Africans network that targets South Africans living in the USA, UK, China, Australia and other key markets on the African continent.
To ensure that our work is having the desired results, Brand South Africa will conduct an assessment and monitoring of the country’s performance and global reputation. This will be supported by work to counter negative messaging and perceptions about South Africa through a strategic reputation management programme that will position South Africa favourably domestically, regionally and internationally.
The lifting of international travel bans and the national state of disaster will allow for a lot more travel both domestically and internationally. It presents us with an opportunity to increase our country's footprint in various markets.
Brand South Africa has earmarked R14 million to ensure uniformity in messaging and the branding of the country by key stakeholders as part of promoting the country internationally.
The organisation will leverage partnerships to market the nation’s brand, promote the nation’s value proposition and meaningfully interface with stakeholders who positively influence our nation’s brand. Brand South Africa will also host its flagship Annual Nation Brand Forum that brings together the country’s key stakeholders in the promotion of our brand globally.
I would like to draw your attention to an important sector that is the heartbeat of our nation’s vibrant smaller communities. Community media has emerged as an alternate voice to the mainstream media. It adds to the plurality of voices we desperately seek as a thriving democracy.
This sector has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which placed a massive strain on the financial resources of many community media initiatives, compromising the many gains we have achieved in the sector since the start of democracy. This year will therefore be a period of recovery for the community and small commercial media, supported by government through the Media Development and Diversity Agency.
The MDDA is in the process of finalising the Sustainability Model for the community and small commercial media projects, which will be a first for the local community.
media sector and is supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The thrust for the model is centred around the theme of ‘Building a resilient and future-forward community and small commercial media sector”.
We will also support the sector through our Grant Funding Policy to ensure the growth of the community and small commercial media projects. The MDDA has approved grant and seed funding for 24 community radio stations and 10 community and small commercial print projects across the country. We believe that this will go a long way in helping the sector stabilise and begin a path to recovery.
Community media that operate in the poorest, vulnerable and most economically underdeveloped communities find it nearly impossible to generate revenue through traditional means such as advertising. Our Fundraising and Support Strategy aims to assist these media to become self-sustainable over the longer term. We are targeting international donors and major media companies for financial and non-financial support. In this regard, over the last financial year, we launched an official Fund Raising Strategy.
This year the agency introduced bold and innovative interventions to the community media sector. The agency has set aside R40.5 million for its Digital Innovation Strategy, embracing innovation as a catalyst for change within the community media sector. We will also champion research to advance media development and create a body of knowledge for the sector.
Our programme will ensure that research becomes the bedrock for the strengthening and sustainability of the community and small commercial media sector.
The MDDA has developed capacity-building programmes to provide community and small commercial media with the necessary skills and training, specifically targeting historically disadvantaged groups. The agency has set aside R4million for research and training interventions.
Next year the MDDA will celebrate its 20th Anniversary, and as we prepare to mark this milestone we remember many successes such as the funding of 512 community media projects. We will continue to build on this legacy as we create an environment for media development and diversity that reflects the needs and aspirations of all South Africans.
Honourable House Chairperson,
In conclusion, Communication allows us to transcend barriers and division. It allows us to drive our economy and society forward. We will use the power of communication to harness the unyielding spirit of South Africans to grow our nation and ensure that no one is left behind.
Finally, I would like to thank the Minister in the Presidency for his strategic leadership, the Director-General of GCIS, and the Executive of the reporting entities of Brand South Africa and MDDA, with a special thank you to the staff across all, who go above and beyond.
I thank you.