Communicators strengthen ties ahead of SONA

Thursday, June 20, 2019

An old adage goes - sow the seed of friendship and reap the reward of happiness. That encapsulates the thinking behind the pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) media networking cocktail.

The session, which is co-hosted by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and Media24, provides media an opportunity to interact with government communicators ahead of the SONA.

This as GCIS acting Director-General Phumla Williams explains, smoothes the channel between the media as the watchdog and government, forming a cordial working relationship.

“This event is about forging a great relationship between government communicators and the media,” said Williams on Wednesday evening.

Media24 Print Division CEO Rika Swart said while there are still challenges in the media environment, the night provided media workers and communicators a chance to network with old friends and connect with new acquaintances.

Additionally, the networking session provides the media a chance to get acquainted with the leadership of the GCIS.

With a new Cabinet recently announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa -the networking session comes at an opportune time to strengthen old working relationships and establish new ones.

Announcing his trimmed Cabinet in a bid to tighten the public purse, President Ramaphosa announced former ANC Chief Whip in Parliament, Jackson Mthembu, as the Minister in the Presidency.

The President also appointed Thembi Siweya as Mthembu’s Deputy.

Together the two will steer the ship at the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Statistics South Africa and the GCIS alongside its subsidiaries the Media Development and Diversity Agency and Brand South Africa.

Addressing the event, Minister Mthembu and his deputy called on the media to continue spreading government’s message.

“We are going to work together with you. And make sure that we are available when you need us all the time so that we make it possible for you to convey the thinking of government to the populace,” said the Minister. 

While he called for support, Mthembu urged the media to continue with its watchdog role and remain critical of government.

“Our relationship will be based on mutual respect. Don’t hesitate to tackle us. It is when you tell us we are wrong that is when we will improve as a government and bring services to our people,” said Mthembu.

The new, young and female Deputy Minister who forms part of the 50% female representation in President Ramaphosa’s Cabinet echoed her Minister’s sentiments.

“We rely on you to assist us as politicians to deliver the correct message to our people,” said Siweya. -