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GCIS clean audit due to dedicated employees

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Acting Director-General Donald Liphoko says the department obtained a clean audit due to the dedication of all the employees in all its offices.

The Director-General said this on the side-lines of the GCIS presentation of its annual report to the Portfolio Committee on Communications.

He said this after the Office of the Auditor-General (AG) commended the GCIS for maintaining its clean audit for the second year running.

The AG’s office also commended the newly established Communications Ministry for obtaining its clean audit, as well as Brand South Africa (Brand SA) for recording an improvement in getting its clean audit.

I would like to congratulate the GCIS for achieving its second clean audit. This is a demonstration of the hard work that all of the employees in the GCIS � in the provincial offices, in our district municipalities � we are focussed on ensuring that we bring government communications to all citizens, he said on Tuesday.

Briefing Members of Parliament later, the Acting DG reiterated his appreciation to the efforts of all GCIS staffers.

Reports of this nature are not achieved by efforts of a handful of people. It is really due to the individual contribution of many people in the department. I think that any one of those 410 odd individuals has contributed something for getting us to this point and it is proper that I thank them for their effort in what was a difficult year, he said.

He said when employees are working extremely hard, doing in some instances the work of two or more people, they will start to look for other jobs should they feel overworked. The Acting DG said in a bid to retain talented staff, the GCIS has had to allow employees to go to other departments on secondment.

But because they are high performers in the departments that they have gone to, those departments have created posts for them and I am afraid some of those people may not be coming back.

Second area for us which is of concern is the disruption of key communications services. An organisation like ours depend on infrastructure like IT in order for us to do things like media briefings. We need to have a connected network that basically makes it possible for the media rooms in Cape Town as well as press facilities in Tshwane are able to connect via a live link so that we can connect all kinds of media frequency.

The concern for me is the impact on our front line services. In our nine provincial offices, if our budget is not visited, there will come a day in the future when the provincial directors, communicators in the province, will not be able to travel out of the offices to go and lead communications in municipalities, he said.

Making government jobs more accessible

The Acting DG said one of the key highlights for the year was a Ministerial intervention to ensure that the department continues to produce and distribute Vukuzenzele.

One of the key interventions that the Minister drove was one when we looked at funding Vukuzenzele in a different way.

We could not fund it any longer using the department’s baseline, so we started to pilot, in partnership with the National Treasury, to get other departments to advertise in Vukuzenzele, specifically the recruitment sections, he said.

He said by so doing, government also increased the accessibility of the job section as mainstream newspapers were becoming expensive and making it hard for the poor to access jobs through platforms like Sunday Times, which now costs R20.

He said this has enabled Vukuzenzele to expand. The newspaper now comes out twice a month and it is free.

Our vision for it is we can take government jobs to far flung areas of South Africa, so people don’t have to pay to have access to the recruitment sections, he said.

He said, meanwhile, that the work of the Imbizo programme was important as it brings people closer to their leaders.

GCIS achievements

Presenting the annual report for the financial year 2015/ 16, the Acting DG said GCIS achieved 90% of the planned annual targets.

He said the five targets that were not achieved do not pose a significant risk to the organisation.

What they do is point to some of the challenges that we have around the allocation of human resources. Whilst they don’t compromise the integrity of the organisation now, they have actually put a strain on our human resources, he said.

Presenting the Communications Ministry’s annual report, Minister Faith Muthambi said the department had to borrow staffers from GCIS due to headcount challenges and in order not to use consultants.

The Acting DG said three out of five of the targets that were not met were due to the shared services MoU.

He said when Vukuzenzele was launched in 2005, its print run stood at 21.4 million copies per annum. Today, the department is only able to publish 18.4 million copies per annum, attributing this to budget constraints.

He said the Public Sector Manager Magazine, which focusses on unpacking government policies, directed at senior managers, produces 19 000 copies. He said the magazine is funded through advertising.

He said GCIS distributes its daily news through SAnews, a flagship news bureau that competes with Media24 and ANA, amongst others.

Its role is to make sure that we profile government work and that we capture the actual stories of successful government implementation and distribute that to all South Africans.

In the year [under review], we published 4 022 articles. That is roughly more than 12 articles a day and this is being done by a total of eight journalists.

So the workload is exceptionally high, and I think we are getting real value from the people that we have put to work in the system, but my concern is that we have reached an optimal level and if we are going to make a higher impact, we need to be thinking more strategically about how we fund some of these initiatives, he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency