Be good brand ambassadors for South Africa

Wherever they go in the world, all citizens should be good brand ambassadors and promote the country, according to according to the deputy minister of communications. She also called on journalists to report accurately and for gender equality in the workplace.

 journalists_on_media_tour_article_2 During a gathering with media on a tour by Brand South Africa, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said people should be ambassadors wherever they go. (Image: Melissa Javan )

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Melissa Javan

Citizens should be brand ambassadors for the country wherever they go, according to Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, the deputy minister of communications.

She was speaking at a gathering hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, attended by local and foreign journalists who were on a weeklong tour of Joburg hosted by Brand South Africa. The journalists were able to interact with the deputy minister as well as business representatives at the meeting, held on 19 March.

South Africa was celebrating 21 years of democracy, Ndabeni-Abrahams reminded guests. With this in mind, the government would like South Africans to remember their roles in the country. “We would like [South Africans] to help us perfect the work that was done before by those who had their time.”

Business, neighbouring countries and journalists should work with each other and the government, she added. Turning to Mandela, she said he had made South Africans realise that they should work together with their counterparts.

Freedom is important for the younger generation. “[The struggle heroes] gave their lives as well as their families to get freedom. How do we keep the torch burning? We cannot be totally free if our people in different areas are not.”

Referring to Mandela using his clan name, she asked: “How can we not betray Tata Madiba’s legacy or Oliver Tambo’s wealth?”

 Stella_Ndabeni_Abrahams_article Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said we should not betray what struggle heroes fought for and should fight for freedom for everyone. (Image:sanews.gov.za )

Everyone who could do something in South Africa should be mobilised. “Human rights and freedom of expression come with responsibilities. We still have those who [carry hurt from the past]. How do we in our daily lives instil hope in the hopeless, in those with a painful past?”

Ndabeni-Abrahams called South Africa a healing nation, and invited everyone to play a part: “If you are going to play your part, you have to share the vision.”

She also took the opportunity to challenge local journalists for not reporting correctly especially on scandals relating to the government. “You [journalists] have responsibilities as communicators. You can never be a good reporter if you don’t understand your story,” she said.

“As we criticise each other, it’s important not to destroy. Our brand is crucial. When you do wrong, acknowledge it and let others expose,” she said, calling on journalists to get local content from the people and “tell it like it is”.

Turning to gender equality in business, the minister said women still did not get equal treatment. “In terms of the core [of a company or institution], you don’t find women there.”

It was not enough for women to just be in human resources. Gender transformation was important. “You need to invest in your employees.”

The guests at the meeting also visited the Centre of Memory at the foundation. They visited Mandela’s office and saw personal items such as his notebooks and photos.

 journalists_on_media_tour_article The media also got the chance to go through Madiba’s belongings at the Centre of Memory. (Image: Melissa Javan )