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Responsive communication key to changing the world

Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, says government must ensure that it adopts new ways of communicating with citizens.

He said this when he tabled the Budget Vote for the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) during a mini-plenary of the National Assembly held recently.

“I believe our key task in this period is to ensure that no South African is left behind, in line with the President’s call to action in this year’s State of the Nation Address. Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, highlighted in his Budget Vote speech that Government Communication and Information System was key to ensuring that flood victims had access to information. GCIS had a responsibility of informing flood victims about access to basic services and updates on restoration.

“Our communication must touch and change lives, while also being relevant and easily understood.

“We dare not rest on our laurels by believing that what worked today will still be relevant tomorrow,” he said.

The GCIS has been allocated R719.9 million for the 2022/23 financial year. The GCIS’s spending plan amounts to R2.182 billion over the next three years.

The funding provided to the GCIS over the three-year Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period (2022/23 to 2024/25) will allow the department to carry out the constitutionally mandated task of ensuring that all citizens and communities have access to information.

“We cannot allow a new divide to be created between those with access to resources and technology and those without,” he said.  

Minister Gungubele said government communication must be a mixture of the old and the new.

“We must blend the best of both worlds and find ways to reach people where they live, in a language or medium they understand.

“We will deploy our tried, trusted and necessary direct engagement methods of imbizo, activations, outreach activities, community dialogues and loud hailing,” he said.

Supporting vaccination drive

Minister Gungubele said in the coming period, GCIS will continue to actively build on its many partnerships and collaborations to support the country’s efforts to vaccinate over 70% of the target population.

“We will also continue to drive the message that vaccines are effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalisation and death, and they remain our quickest path to normality.

“GCIS will also continue to play a pivotal role in proactive campaigns such as KeReady and Vooma Vaccination Weekends, which have succeeded in driving higher vaccination numbers, especially amongst younger people.”

Healing through communication

Minister Gungubele also highlighted that communication can be key in bringing about healing psychological and physical scars following the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal that caused infrastructure damage and led to a loss of lives.

“The disaster in KwaZulu-Natal reminds us that the effective dissemination of information based on engagement with communities and social partners is a key contribution towards healing psychosocial and physical scars, and restoring a decimated landscape,” he said.

He added that the floods of destruction in KwaZulu-Natal followed waves of COVID-19 infections that claimed many lives and livelihoods but which also fostered resilience, compliance and creativity in our nation.

He added that flood victims were left with many questions about how people could access relief and support services; where people could report missing persons; how affected family members could find out who was searching for their relatives; how they could find out if missing people were found; who could help them with food or accommodation; If government would provide assistance with funerals and if other schools would take in learners from schools that were damaged.

“These basic questions of survival and the necessities of life brought into sharp focus the responsibility that rests on the Government Communication and Information System as the centre of public communications in government.

“This is also a collective responsibility that is shared by all clusters, departments and entities that make up the government communication system,” he said.

Tackling corruption

Minister Gungubele said many of the worrying revelations at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry were only brought to light because citizens stepped forward and told their stories.

“As government, we know that there have been many occasions where we have fallen short. Public trust has been eroded and people are rightly sceptical at times.”

He said corruption threatens South Africa’s young democracy.

“It is therefore heartening that government has made huge strides with a number of successful investigations by the SIU [Special Investigating Unity], as well as the forfeiture of assets.”

Minister Gungubele added that GCIS supported the anti-corruption drive by profiling various anti-corruption initiatives and programmes through different media platforms such as social media, public engagements, comprehensive messaging. – SAnews.gov.za