GCIS meeting comms mandate despite tough environment

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Acting Director-General, Phumla Williams, says the department continues to fulfil its communications mandate, despite a challenging environment.

The Acting DG said this when she presented the GCIS’s first quarter preliminary performance report to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications on Wednesday.   

Williams said while the GCIS was expected to deliver on budgeted deliverables, the department also took on additional tasks and organised community-based dialogues on gender-based violence.

“The implementation of our deliverables in the first quarter … happened in an environment that was very difficult. When you do the communications programme, you also have to take into account what is taking place in the environment and … [at] that time, issues of gender-based violence really came to the fore.

“… We had to balance dealing with what is in the environment but equally deal with what we had sought to implement,” she said.

Williams said despite budgetary constraints, the GCIS got involved with the gender-based violence campaign.

“For us, it is such an important campaign that in as much as we don’t have the budget for it, we are having a lot of dialogues with communities through our provincial offices.

“There is a lot of work that we are doing also with the Department of Justice to engage communities through our community media platform, which is radio. We link up on our programme for an hour every Thursday to engage communities.

“But I believe that through the funding that we request, we can amplify these messages and we can also amplify these dialogues. National Treasury did also see the need for us to make a bid for the funding that is available through the EU pool,” Williams said.

She said overall, the department had 41 targets that it needed to meet in its service deliverables, 37 of which were successfully implemented.

GCIS addressing vacancies

Previously, the Portfolio Committee expressed concern over unfilled vacancies at the department.

Zukiswa Potye, the Chief Director for Strategic Planning and Programme Management, said progress was being made in filling those vacancies.

“We are happy to report that of the 14 vacant senior management positions, all of them were advertised and we shortlisted five and three have been interviewed and the six remaining, the process to shortlist them is underway.”  

Meanwhile, Potye said over the past quarter, GCIS produced 5.1 million copies of the government newspaper Vuk'uzenzele, which were distributed free in six editions to communities via a door-to-door service and at the department’s provincial and district offices.

When GCIS last appeared before the Portfolio Committee, MPs raised a concern over the lack of coherence of government’s key messaging due to a lack of authority by the GCIS to coordinate the entire government communication system effectively.

Potye said the GCIS is working to address this.

“One of the issues raised was the coherence of the government message on gender-based violence… The GCIS [has] developed and costed a communications strategy on gender-based violence and submitted a request for funding through the MTEF process to National Treasury.

“We are happy to report that GCIS has now finalised a communications policy, which our political principals have made tremendous inputs on. Those documents will be ready for submission to Cabinet for approval,” she said. – SAnews.gov.za

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