Pretoria: What better way to officially introduce the new acting Chief Executive Officer at Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), Phumla Williams, than over a scrumptious continental breakfast at the recent Public Sector Manager (PSM) magazine Forum.
The forum – an extension of PSM magazine- held this morning at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rosebank, saw communicators, parastatals and public servants alike, welcome Williams on board.
The PSM magazine is a high-end publication targeting middle to senior managers in the public sector and the forum is an extension of the magazine which lends itself to discussion and interaction between the managers and the leadership in the public sector.
Addressing her first PSM Forum as Acting CEO, Williams highlighted that she chose the public service as a career because she felt it was her mission to better the lives of the communities she saw herself grow up in.
Having worked her way up the ranks within the public service, Williams embodies the charisma and determination to encourage, motivate and lead other public servants to follow in her footsteps. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from UNISA and joined the GCIS in 1999, where she worked as the Chief Financial Officer before securing the position of Deputy CEO in June 2010.
Eighteen years on, she is just as passionate about service delivery as she was on the day she joined. Being a public servant, a mother and a grandmother herself, she said: “The need for us as a government to build a better life and society for our children and grandchildren is great.”
With just over a month in her new position, Williams has reinforced and aligned government’s communication and content focus to the five key national priorities of safety, health, education, employment and rural development; as well as local government and basic services, infrastructure development and the country’s achievements in the past 18 years.
“We are making efforts as GCIS – and are encouraging departments – to make more extensive use of social platforms to involve citizens and stakeholders in dialogue.”
In this regard, GCIS in 2011/12 facilitated face-to-face-interactions that brought ministers, deputy ministers, premiers, MECs and other public office-bearers into contact with 21 million people in total.
“This demonstrates government’s openness to engagement, even if difficult conversations and questions result. Our aim with engagements is not to pacify people or gloss over difficulties. It is to hear what people have to say and to respond with the best interests of all South Africans in mind.
She added that as we approach 20 years of democracy in the country, we are seeing an important convergence between major policy initiatives such as the National Development Plan, the New Growth Path and our infrastructure development programme – all of which target the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality. “With these initiatives, we are expanding social protection while modernizing our economy and fast-tracking industrialisation with a combination of the knowledge and resource economies.
“Over the next few years, government will be building new ports, roads, rail networks, universities and hospitals, while we will also realise the Square Kilometer Array. These are developments on a grand and long-term scale that will change the face of our country and the lives of South Africans and create new opportunities for South African businesses and international trade and investment partners,” said Williams.
Tackling questions guests posed on how government planned to improve its communication to the media, and its people as a whole, Williams announced that GCIS wouldl be launching an unprecedented effort to beef up professional communicators’ skills with a National Qualifications Framework credit-bearing or accredited qualification.
“This effort will build communication capacity nationally, provincially and locally, and will ensure that communication professionals will be effective in the full spectrum of communication, from interpersonal methods to working with media and managing campaigns.”
In closing, Williams encouraged communicators to carry out their work with passion and assured media houses and the public that GCIS was determined to improve and revitalise its efforts to communicate government’s messages and programmes of action.
“I have a deep passion for communication and the power it has to transform our world and country. As a magazine and a forum, Public Sector Manager is an invaluable part of the growing range of platforms developed by GCIS to communicate with a broad range of South Africans, in particular the senior members of the public service.
“The public service is a large community with its own culture and information needs. It is a priority to reach out to public servants with this particular combination of a publication and forum. This allows us to share information, views and really get behind the game plan on any of government’s policies.”