Full text: Budget Vote Speech by the Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo

A total of R1.4-billion is allocated to the Department of Communications in 2017/18, Minister Ayanda Dlodlo revealed in her Budget Vote Speech on 26 May.

Ayanda Dlodlo Communications budget vote speech
Ms. Ayanda Dlodlo, Minister of the Department of Communications. (Image: GovernmentZA, Twitter)

The Budget Vote Speech by Ms. Ayanda Dlodlo, Minister of Communications on Friday 26 May 2017 at the National Assembly in Parliament.

Honourable House Chairperson,
Honourable Deputy Minister of Communications,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Honourable members,
Acting Chairperson of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and other councillors,
South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Interim Board Chairperson and Board members,
Brand South Africa Chairperson and Board members,
Film and Publication Board (FPB) Chairperson and Board members,
Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) Chairperson and Board members,
Acting Director-General (ADG) of the Department of Communications (DoC),
ADG of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS),
Executive members of the DoC entities,
Distinguished guests,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen.

Honourable House Chairperson,

I stand here today in front of this august House as a woman, a mother, a sister and a friend. The mere fact of my gender communicates a message to some that I can be raped, maimed and killed.

Notwithstanding many of the laws enacted such as the Domestic Violence Act of 1998, the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2007 and the Protection from Harassment Act of 2011, many women in our country remain vulnerable and targeted.

Many have died at the hands of people who professed to love them.

Many women of our country continue to be harassed and some of our laws in many instances still treat perpetrators of these crimes leniently.

Warsan Shire, a Kenyan-born Somali poet, when asked about how it feels to be a woman subjected to these forms of abuse, she wrote this poem and I quote:

“Later that night, I held an atlas in my lap
Ran my fingers across the whole world
And whispered
Where does it hurt?
It answered
Everywhere, everywhere, every where.”

Honourable members,

We meet at a time when the social fabric of our society is being severely tested. The recent spate of brutal attacks and murders of women and children has sent shockwaves throughout society.

However, we need to do more than just be outraged, the hurt and pain that we all rightly feel should be channelled into action that will protect the most vulnerable amongst us, and instil a sense of heightened vigilance amongst women and civil society at large.

We need to say enough is enough, and act so that no woman or child ever again falls victim to abuse, rape or murder.

We must talk too about why our men and boys are so violent?

Where does it hurt with them and what can we do together about that?

It is in our hands to become the change we want to see, to be that country that not only theorises about our commitment to non-sexism.

I am heartened that a united civil front is emerging to deal with the many complex issues that drive child and women abuse. Many men have said, Not in our Name, and we need to sustain that commitment.

I can assure you that for its part, government will continue to lead the way but ultimately we need society to stand together to fight this scourge. My department and its various entities will be at the forefront of a campaign by Brand South Africa to rally South Africans to protect our nation’s women and children.

Honourable Chairperson,

The fundamentals of a budget are interlinked to the political economy, the bread and butter issues, the essence and nerve centre of service delivery. It impacts directly and indirectly to the quality of life of our society, our citizens and ultimately the ordinary women, men and our children. With this powerful instrument called the budget, we seek to allocate the most valuable and scarce resource of a country to the ever-increasing demands and needs of our people.

The DoC plays a pivotal role in a sector that has asserted itself in modern days as a game changer that is fundamentally transforming human life. There cannot be a dispute that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has become a life-line service that changes lives of people.

This is succinctly articulated by German engineer and economist Klaus Schwab when he said “this time is different” .. Klaus asserts that “simply put, major technological innovations are at the brink of fueling momentous change throughout the world – inevitably so. We are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another. In its scale, scope and complexity what I consider the to be the fourth industrial revolution, is unlike anything human kind has experienced before.”

South Africa as a country has a choice either to be a significant player in the global technological development or be the recipient and consumer who tails behind innovation. It might be too late to position ourselves as leaders, however there is scope to be a meaningful player. Not to assert ourselves in the innovation and development engine room will render us vulnerable to global economic and technological advances.

Re tshwanetse go aga setshaba le mmuso o ikemetseng e bile o bontsha tsebo le bohlale ba tswelopele. Tlhabologo ya setshaba sa rona e mo matsogong a rona.

Honourable House Chairperson,

Yesterday we celebrated Africa Day under the theme: “The Year of OR Tambo: Building a Better Africa and a Better World”. Amongst many of OR’s achievements, we salute him as a freedom fighter, global fighter against racism and sexism, science teacher, choral music lover and a communicator par excellence, a global colossus as Madiba described him, who strode the globe so that we can be free, promoting African unity, deepening ties of solidarity between us and the world.

Honourable Chairperson,

Our continent is filled with promise, and in our relatively young and determined population we have abundant human capital to drive Africa’s future. I would like to acknowledge the presence of some of those determined young people who join us today in the gallery.

They are Shirelle Daniels, Darren Morris, Renae Shishonga, Leyla Devar, Joshua Mabasa and Paballo Mabasa, who I had the pleasure of meeting at a recent Own Your Freedom dialogue with learners from various schools in Gauteng about what freedom means to them.

Together with the energy of young people such as these and our guiding continental development goals in Agenda 2063, we can achieve an Africa with strong cultural identity, values and ethics. It is further underpinned by the African Union’s vision to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa that is a dynamic force in the international arena.

Honourable members,

Today marks 40 days since 1 500 Palestinian prisoners embarked on a hunger strike to demand for basic rights in Israeli jails. I was part of a group of South Africans who joined a solidarity hunger strike on 14 May to highlight the continued injustices on the people and children of Palestine. We should always remember that we were once beneficiaries of a global solidarity movement during our fight against apartheid.

I call on all South Africans to make their voices heard. Now it is our turn to stand up for what is right.

Honourable House Chairperson,

It is a great honour to present the DoC’s 2017/18 Budget Vote. Since the establishment of the DoC in 2014, a number of developments have taken place and I will outline these later.

I first want to highlight the vitally important subject of governance across the various entities under the Ministry of Communications. Good governance is absolutely essential and is non-negotiable.

In this regard I am pleased to say that the DOC, the GCIS and all other entities continue to adhere to the prescripts of the Public Finance and Management Act of 1999, and are on track to meet their performance indicators.

Budgets are being spent wisely and we are working at ensuring financial stability across all entities, while capacity constraints are being addressed through the filling of vacant positions.

On the matter of budget, I hereby present the total budget for the department as R4, 558 billion over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period, which is allocated as follows: R1, 425 billion in 2017/18, R1, 520 billion in 2018/19 and R1, 612 billion in 2019/20.

In the current financial year, the DoC will be allocated R100 million; GCIS (R404 million); Brand South Africa (R194 million); FPB (R91 million); ICASA (R430 million); MDDA (R30 million) and the SABC (R173 million).

This funding will be used to accelerate our mission to create an enabling environment for the provision of inclusive and universally accessible communication services to all South Africans in a manner that promotes socio-economic development and investment through broadcasting, new media, print media and other new technologies, and brand the country locally and internationally.

Honourable Chairperson,

The Ministry of Communications is mandated to implement Chapter 15 of the National Development Plan (NDP), which is translated to Outcome 14 on Nation-Building and Social Cohesion.

Honourable Chairperson,

With the NDP as our anchor, we have been working hard to ensure citizens have access to information, which is a crucial tool in ensuring they are able to claim their rights and move their lives forward, united by common goals and a sense of patriotism.

Our cherished goal is to ensure that all South Africans are informed on what is going on around them. This was not always the case.

The DoC, the GCIS and the various entities will continue to do more to increase access to government communications and services so that citizens are informed about our policies and programmes, and can access services in order to improve their lives.

Honourable members,

I am sure you would agree with me on the vital need of ensuring that our communication dividend benefits all South Africans.

A firm foundation for the effective functioning of the department has been laid with the approval of the organisational structure and the 2015/16 to 2019/20 Strategic Plan.

In its first year of operations, the DoC received a clean audit for the 2015/16 financial year. The department will ensure it strengthens its internal controls and compliance to the legislative prescripts during implementation of our strategic objectives and deliverables.

Honourable House Chairperson,

Since its inception, the DoC has hit the ground running. Broadcasting Digital Migration remains a flagship programme of the department as it has the potential to improve the lives of all South Africans. Among other things, it will ensure increased access to information and services, and create new job opportunities in content development, production and editing to accelerate economic growth.

The roll-out of the programme further brings tangible benefits that will have a lasting impact across our society and economy. These include the revitalisation of the electronic manufacturing industry through the local manufacturing of set-top boxes (STBs), digital terrestrial television (DTT) aerials and satellite dish installations.

This development would also see South Africa leading the continent in the manufacturing of Integrated Digital Television.

I am happy to say that significant progress has been made in the implementation of DTT. To date we have switched off 18 analogue transmitters in the core towns of the SKA and we have registered 185000 qualifying households.

My department will be working to promote media diversity and media transformation that advances our democracy by ensuring all South Africans are given a voice.

Honourable House Chairperson,

In the words of renowned American linguist, philosopher, historian, social critic and political activist, Noam Chomsky: “Public opinion can be influential, the media can be influential.”

In the era of fake news and misleading narratives, these words ring true. Our interactions and discussions with the industry and key stakeholders will therefore further extend to the phenomena of fake news, and how it has the potential to harm democracy by driving false and misleading narratives. This must go hand in hand with discussions on racism and hate speech.

According to an input by Abongile Vanqa at the Fake News Roundtable held on Wednesday this week, convened by SANEF in partnership with Media24: “The solution for fake news will not be found in a technology, rather it will be found through extensive engagement between the journalism profession, government and civil society on what are the parameters we wish to put in place when defining this phenomenon.”

Once all social partners define the general applicable standards of what is news and what is fake it will be easier to communicate a South African perspective.

Honourable Chairperson,

Print and broadcast media organisations can learn from some of the best practices at the FPB who have publicly consulted on standards aimed at articulating what is Child Sexual Abuse material. These standards are universally applicable for any company wishing to distribute material within the Republic of South Africa.

Honourable House Chairperson,

As we finalise our Community Broadcasting Support Strategy after consultations with the affected stakeholders. We will continue to focus on regulatory policy formulation, and funding for the sector through the MDDA, which is now 15 years in existence, and has the legal and legislative mandate to carry out such activities. Through this initiative we will pay particular focus that to ensure that the elimination of the digital divide in skills between disadvantaged and advantaged children and youth.

The budget vote takes place within exciting times with digital convergence driven largely by innovation and creativity opening new possibilities and opportunities. On the policy front we have exciting plans to capitalise on new opportunities.

The draft White Paper on Audio-Visual and Digital Content for South Africa will be submitted to Cabinet for approval to be gazetted for public comments, after consultation with relevant stakeholders and provinces. It is envisaged to be published in the Government Gazette by the end of July 2017. We will ensure that the white paper is aligned with Integrated ICT White Paper approved by Cabinet to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of policy within the ICT sector.

Honourable members,

Broadcasting is very important in the development of the African continent, where the majority of Africans still get their information, education and entertainment primarily from radio, and then television.

In this regard, radio and television play an important role in our societies, compared to other forms of communication such as press which tends to have an urban bias and depends largely on literacy of its audience or readers.

The SABC is by far the largest and most influential broadcaster in South Africa in terms of reach, size, overall audience figures, and share of the advertising market. Nearly 28 million radio listeners in South Africa tune into one of the SABC’s 18 radio stations and the SABC’s three free-to-air television channels attract more than 21 million adult viewers each day.

In some areas in South Africa, the SABC is the only source of news and information-and in many others, the only media to accommodate communities’ home languages. As such it plays an important role in people’s lives.

During 2017/18, we intend finalising our work around the Broadcasting Amendment Bill of 2015, in order to develop and implement a stable corporate governance model on the long-term stability and sustainability of the SABC. We are committed to a strong, independent and relevant public broadcaster, which is accountable and performs optimally.

Honourable Chairperson,

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of the staff at the SABC. These are dedicated media professional who continue to work night and day to ensure that the SABC continues to educate, inform and entertain South Africans in all official languages.

We will ensure that the SABC platforms continue to drive meaningful content that touches the lives of ordinary people daily and assist them to make informed decisions.

Honourable members,

In the coming year we will continue to support and build our community media sector. The importance of community media cannot be overstated. They are often the heartbeat of vibrant smaller communities.
Since 1994 the footprint of community media has grown steadily and has begun to emerge as an alternative voice to the mainstream media.

We must therefore ensure that community radio remains true to the purpose of informing, educating and entertaining the community.

I view the community broadcasting sector as a channel to bring citizens and government closer and ensure community members are included into relevant government public participation processes.

The MDDA is intensifying our support for the community media sector. We are pleased that in the current financial year, the MDDA will present the 10-year impact study which sought to assess the effectiveness of the impact made since the MDDA’s inception in 2002.

The MDDA must continue supporting projects that promote the active role of people with disabilities into the sector and placing greater emphasis on correcting gender imbalances, both in terms of ownership and management of community media, and in the newsroom, as well as on how women are portrayed in the media.

We also acknowledge the tremendous demand for MDDA support within communities and call on the private sector to also support community media as graduates from community radio and broadcasting sector often occupy newsrooms and studios of big mainstream print and broadcasting houses.

Fellow South Africans,

The FPB has a critical role to play in this regard, and the Films and Publications Amendment Bill of 2015 will provide a broader understanding and skilling of children, youth, parents and teachers to deal with the new digital environment.

Deputy Minister Mahambehlala will expand on these developments.

Honourable House Chairperson,

Radio and TV will deliver public value broadcasting by supporting the five key priorities set by government, namely job creation; education; health; rural development; eradication of crime and combating corruption, including the Nine-Point Plan.

Honourable members,

The work of Brand South Africa remains crucial in bringing together our socially diverse nation, while striving to unite people through their love for our country.

To manage the nation brand reputation, Brand South Africa conducts research and analysis of domestic and international perceptions of the Nation Brand. Through analysis of external indices, Brand South Africa is able to measure the performance of the Nation Brand. The outcomes of these analyses are shared with stakeholders for better understanding of the Nation Brand and to inform decision-making.

Recently, South Africa took second place in the Africa Competitiveness Report and the country’s global ranking for 2016/17, improved with nine places from 56 in the 2014/15 report to 47 out of 138 countries worldwide, according to Brand South Africa.

This work is vitally important and we all have a role to play in building our nation. Now is the time for a new spirit of patriotism and optimism. Now is the time for all South Africans to play their role as conscious Brand Ambassadors. All too often outside investors only get to hear the negative stories about our great nation. It is up to us to highlight the many positive things about our nation and our people.

Brand South Africa will lead this charge by using various multimedia campaigns (national TV and radio) and internationally (CNN, CNBC) to better profile the image of South Africa locally, in our continent and abroad.

This message will be further amplified by Brand South Africa in collaboration with National Treasury and departments in the economic cluster to position South Africa as open for business at international platforms such as the WEF.

Honourable House Chairperson,

ICASA is currently working to increase competition in the broadcasting sector with an investigation into the South Africa’s pay-TV industry. It is also working to promote choice and diversity in the Free-to-Air TV broadcasting sector in South Africa.

A Notice of Inquiry into Subscription Television Broadcasting Services has been published. While an invitation to apply for Commercial Free to Air Television Broadcasting Service and Multiplex 3 spectrum licences have been published.

The new local content regulations published in 2016 for effective and impactful broadcasting will be effective in September 2017 and for TV broadcasting services in March 2018.

The implementation of the local content quotas for the current regulations shows that sound and TV broadcasting services are already generally compliant with the quotas.

During the 2017/18 financial year, ICASA will facilitate investment and access to broadband infrastructure for sustainable socio-economic development. It will also promote competition and facilitate access to a broad range of communications services at an affordable cost.

This now brings me to the work of the GCIS, which remains an integral part of the DoC and to citizens having access to information.

Next year will mark the 20th Anniversary of the GCIS, and this milestone offers us a great opportunity to evaluate its impact and effectiveness of against its founding principles.

We profoundly thank many architects of the system and hope that they will celebrate this great milestone with us next year. We salute great compatriots such as Mr Joel Netshitenzhe, Dr Essop Pahad and Mr Tony Trew.

As a Ministry we have a responsibility to narrow the gap between government and the people by ensuring access to government information and constantly communicating the work of government.

Our work is to inspire hope and empower citizens with tools to meaningfully change their lives and that of their communities.

Over the 2017/18 MTEF period, the GCIS will continue focusing on providing strategic communications and facilitating active citizen participation through our conventional forms of communication as well as new cutting-edge products.

Over the medium term, the department plans to directly engage with communities through 10 458 outreach programmes. During these programmes, we will be taking government to the people in the villages and communities where they live.

There is no doubt that our government works and continues to change lives. Many South Africans who reside in the most far-flung parts of our country will attest to this.

We will continue to reach out and be part of the changes aimed at bringing a better life for all in villages, at taxi ranks, in shopping malls and throughout the length and breadth of our country.

Honourable members,

To help government communicators to better convey government’s message to citizens, we will hold 14 strategic engagements with them during this financial year. It will help improve the coherence and alignment of government messages.

We applaud many of the government communicators who continue to improve their competencies and in this instance acknowledge the Government Communicators Programme, which is now accredited at National Qualifications Framework 8. This programme has been running for more than a decade and requires more support from all spheres of government.

Honourable members,

Having outlined our plans and programmes allow me to briefly touch on some highlights that the GCIS achieved in the past financial year.

Honourable House Chairperson,

The Government Communication Policy has been finalised and will soon be taken to Cabinet for approval. This policy seeks to establish norms and standards to professionalise and strengthen the government communication system to ensure that it is well-integrated, better coordinated and professional, and allows for citizens to interact with government.

The GCIS has given support to the community radio sector through the placement of adverts and conducting radio talk shows on community radio. Over the financial year, the GCIS has conducted 61 radio talk shows which were simulcast to 65 community radio stations, enabling direct two-way engagement with millions of people and also assisting the sector with content.

A fortnight ago, we were celebrating the success of Eden FM in George in the southern Cape, which has been operating for 14 years servicing communities in the Karoo, Hessequa, Kannaland, Knysna/Plett and Uniondale.

The GCIS has continued to conduct media placement on behalf of government departments and their agencies.

Honourable members,

Through this budget, the Ministry seeks to, among others, improve universal access to broadcasting services; ensure equitable allocation of spectrum to public, private and community players; broaden access to information by all citizens; support the growth and development of the creative industries; manage digital broadcasting migration, and market the country locally, regionally and internationally.

The business sector also plays the most crucial role from the perspective of innovation, technology advancement, growing the economy, creating jobs and making South Africa internationally competitive.

The Ministry of Communication will at all times support and work with all private-sector players. We will support theirdevelopment, growth and competitiveness. However, we wish to warn against oligopoly; prohibitive cost and un-competitive behavior.

During this past year we have accelerated our work of ensuring that our people derive benefits from the communication dividend. There is every reason to be confident in our future prospects and working together we can ensure that more South Africans derive benefits from the communication space at accessible and reasonable cost.

In the coming months and years we will continue to support the work of government, while also proactively driving campaigns and implementing policies to move South Africa forward.

I would like to extend many thanks to the following for their support now and into the future of the Ministry:

Deputy Minister Mahambehlala for the hard work, support and teamwork.

Boards of the entities under the Ministry for their support and good team work.

The Chairperson and members of the Portfolio Committee on Communications for their oversight on our work to endure that we improve delivery and accelerate transformation in the Media industry

Acting Directors-General in the DoC and GCIS for their hard work and support to the Ministry of Communications.

Family and friends for their support and encouragements to serve our people.

The officials and staff at the departments and institutions under the executive authority of the Ministry of Communications.

My heartfelt appreciation to His Excellency, the Honourable President Jacob Zuma, my colleagues at the Cabinet and the African National Congress for their direction, guidance and support in our work to improve the quality and standard of life of all South Africans,

Honourable House Chairperson,

I hereby request that the House approve the Budget Vote 3 of the Ministry of Communications.

I thank you.

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