The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) will spend its budget on mobilising South Africans to remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19 through several community outreach activations.
Acting Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said this when she tabled the department’s budget vote to a mini plenary of the National Assembly on Friday.
“To mobilise South Africans to continue the fight against COVID-19, through this budget, GCIS will continue to implement its outreach programmes designed to reach people where they work or reside. This will include at taxi ranks, mall activations, panel discussions on local community media and commercial radio and TV stations,” she said.
The Minister said despite the devastation left by the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has left hunger, job losses and death in its wake, the responsibility of government is to continue to work to restore hope.
She said for the period ahead, GCIS is tasked with carrying out its mandate in four priority areas – mobilising South Africans to continue the fight against COVID-19; providing information about the economic recovery plan; mobilising South Africans in the fight against corruption, and maintaining continuous dialogue in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.
Messages will continue to be packaged in all 11 official languages.
“I must concede that getting messages across to people has been a mammoth task, but that GCIS has embraced and made considerable gains in this front through a combination of old-style outreach activations, and coupled with a massive presence in the digital age of government – websites, social media and other messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and webinars.
“Our communications approach was based on a need to inspire behaviour change and instill hope.”
As the country is faced with a likelihood of a third wave, Ntshavheni called on South Africans not to drop their guard, and to continue to observe COVID-19 protocols.
“South Africans in their numbers have continued to adhere to the call to wear masks in the public and to observe social distancing and to wash their hands with soap and water or [use] 70% alcohol-based sanitiser. And we call on South Africans to continue to adhere to these critical, non-pharmaceutical health protocols.”
MDDA to support work to transform the media sector
Meanwhile, the Minister said that the budget allocation to the Media Diversity and Development Agency (MDDA) will support work to transform the media industry.
She said the Media Development and Diversity Amendment Bill, 2021, which will review the MDDA Amendment Act, to align it to key technological developments in the sector and good corporate governance practices, has commenced.
“In addition, the MDDA will submit comments on the amendments of the Electronic Communications Act and the SABC Act because the opportunities for advancing media development and diversity will be widened by the digital migration.
“This opportunity must be used optimally to advance true transformation of the media and enable participation by blacks, women, youth and persons with disability in the sector whose ownership is almost exclusive,” she said.