Cape Town: The Portfolio Committee on Communications has commended the five-year strategic and annual plans tabled by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi in Parliament on Tuesday.
Committee chairperson Joyce Clementine Moloi-Moropa told SAnews that since the separation of functions of the Department of Communications (DoC) and the Telecommunications and Postal Services, much development and progress has been recorded by the DoC.
“My opinion is that there is greater progress in terms of putting up a department. I think they have put in a lot of effort… Before you do anything, you must have a proper structure first.
“The entities have been there but what we are seeing now are entities that are aligning to the department. They are really trying and as a committee, we are generally satisfied,” Moloi-Moropa said.
She said while there is room for improvement in terms of growth of the five entities aligned to the DoC, the will to work together is there. The five entities are Brand SA, Films and Publications Board (FPB), Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA).
On Tuesday, the portfolio committee was also briefed by Brand SA, ICASA and the SABC. The FPB and MDDA will make their presentations to the committee today.
Improving communications environment
The DoC has identified four strategic goals for the 2015 – 2020 period.
These include improving the capacity of the department and its entities to deliver; creating a responsive communication policy and regulatory environment; improving government communication and branding and transforming the communication sector.
Minister Muthambi said the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) continues to exist as a schedule 1 department reporting to the Ministry of Communications to provide a single point of entry with regards to communicating government messages to citizens.
“Reaching all citizens in their languages remains a challenge and the department will develop a clear plan to ensure that all languages are reflected in government communications strategies.
“The advent of digital technology has brought with it challenges on how to regulate content. We will through the FPB intensify activities in order to address the adverse impact of advertising on society, especially youth and children as well as ensuring a secure access to online content,” the Minister said.
GCIS acting Director-General Donald Liphoko said the oversight that the department will perform over these entities will help bring stability to the governance challenges that have befallen some of them.
“Most importantly, we will for the first time be able to align the plans and budgets of all the government communication institutions towards the same vision of an informed citizenry,” said Liphoko.
Communications Acting Director-General Ndivhuho Munzhelele said in the medium term, the department will focus on developing overarching communication and broadcasting policies, a community media and broadcasting support strategy as well as media bulk-buying strategy.
On the legislative front, Munzhelele said they will amend the Broadcasting Amendment Bill, ICASA Amendment Bill, MDDA Amendment Bill, FPB Amendment Bill and Brand SA Bill.
“Communication is a catalyst in promoting nation building, unity and social cohesion. It promotes and defends the image of government by proactively communicating government messages and showcasing delivery successes, challenges and corrective action plans,” he said.
However, Munzhelele said the challenges that need to be addressed and which inform the strategic plans include governance challenges of state owned entities; the delayed digital migration project and inadequate communication of government programmes and plans.
The DoC highlighted a few of its strategic objectives, which include:
Conduct research and develop media policies in order to broaden access to information by all citizens by March 31, 2019;
Conduct research and develop branding policies that positively market the country locally and internationally in a manner that promotes socioeconomic development and investment by March 31, 2019; and
Build a competitive communications industry through the implementation of targeted interventions to support the growth and development of the creative industries by March 31, 2019.
Munzhelele said communication plays an important supportive role in the realisation of government strategic objectives as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).
SOURCE: South African Official News