Councillors urged to communicate govt programs or delays

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Parys - Communications Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams says there would be no service delivery protests if local councillors and municipalities regularly updated communities about developments or delays in the implementation of government’s programmes.

She said there are many times where government communicators and councillors do not communicate and this creates a lag in public awareness.

“Over the past 20 years we have done a lot of great things in this country. However, as government we have realised that we have not been able to engage with the communities in terms of what are the challenges that result to other programs not being implemented.”

She said when this doesn’t happen, service delivery protests can occur.

In turn, the community will be able to advise government on how it can implement its policies better.

The Deputy Minister was addressing the Mayoral Executive Council meeting in Parys, which falls under the Ngwathe Municipality in the Free State.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams briefed the council on the National Communication Strategy, which aims to focus all spheres of government to align their communication campaigns and programmes with the strategic priorities of government.

The Deputy Minister urged councillors and communicators to speak in one voice.

"The newly established Ministry of Communications has a mandate of ensuring that all the foot soldiers in the communication space are giving information to everyone across the country."

She urged the meeting explore using community media.

In turn the Ndabeni- Abrahams- said that is why the Department of Communications is vigorously engaging with the community media and their stakeholders to address such issues as increasing listenership and locals attending council meetings.

She also used the platform to urge councillors to explore the available social networks to share their programme of action with citizens.

“This is the digital-era, our messages must also get across in the social networks to our intended target. We are inviting you as the Department of Communications to join the communication revolution. Let us occupy all the platforms that are out there.”

After the meeting with the EXCO and counsellors - the Deputy Minister visited a local taxi rank to speak to local residents about the 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse Campaign.

She urged women to speak out, act and prevent gender-based violence in their homes and communities.

Many women are unable to report cases of abuse to the police because of their economic and financial dependence on men.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams told women at the taxi rank to "stand up and talk about abuse”.

“You might find out that the person has a problem and needs help like counselling. No one has a right to abuse you.”

Her message to the men was to love, honour and respect women, even beyond the 16 days of the campaign. 

A taxi operator said as men, they were also vulnerable to abuse by women. “When we go to report to the abuse at the police station - the police laugh at us," he said.

The Deputy Minister urged such men to mobilise and form forums to make their voices heard.

"Stand up, speak up and be counted. South Africa needs you to be part of the solution and move this country forward,” she told the men.

The Deputy Minister, who was supported by the Ngwathe Municipality Mayor Joey Mochela, then made an unscheduled visit to the Stompi Seipei soup kitchen at Tumahole.

According to the chairperson of the soup kitchen, Aphathia Mojoe, they provide a meal to about 98 children per day.

She told SAnews that the organisation also teaches dance and music to keep the children off the streets. However, there were challenges of a lack of funding.

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams vowed to come back to visit the soup kitchen again to donate a television and music system which can be used to educate children about South Africa's national symbols and the National Anthem.

The delegation then proceeded to the first community radio in the area: the Lentswe Community Radio. There she attended the board meeting and briefed the station about digital migration developments and that low power transmitters are no longer rolled out because of Broadcasting Digital Migration.

The Deputy Minister encouraged the station to strengthen its stakeholder management capacity in order to attract more support and revenue.

She said the station should comply with their licence obligations including holding AGMs and attend to governance issues.

The station has won the hearts of many locals for its programs, news and music since it has been on air in 2002.

However, the station is faced with many challenges including acquiring enough revenue from advertisers. The station is hoping to change things around by expanding its coverage. 

Currently the station covers Parys but they would like to expand to other areas of Ngwathe municipality like Koppies and Vredefort. -



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