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Speech by the Ministe of Communications, MS AF Muthambi, on the occassion of the VTSD Lekgotla at the Mmabatho Convetion Centre, Bokone Bophirima Province
Premier of Bokone Bophirima Province: Hon. SOR Mahumapelo
Executive Mayor of Ngaka Modiri Molema: Cllr. Makolomakwa
National Government Ministers
Members of the Executive Council
Executive Mayors, Mayors and Councillors
Representatives of BRICS Partners
Brazil: His Excellency: Mr. Martin
People’s Republic of China: His Excellency: TianXuejun
Russian Federation: His Excellency: Mr.Ivanovich Petrakov
Indian High Commission: Her Excellency: Ms. R. Ghanashyam
Officials from all spheres of government
Ladies and Gentlemen
Dumelang! What at a great event.
Sekokotsane se fitlhile mo Bokone Bophirima! I have also noted the strides made in other programmes such as Saamwerk-Saamtrek, RHR (Reconciliation, Healing and renewal), VTSD (Villages, Townships and Small Dorpies and ACT (Agriculture, Culture and Tourism). This Province is on the move!
I commend the North West Provincial Government for a visionary outlook in addressing the economic imbalances of the past and for taking concrete steps in addressing conditions of poverty and unemployment in Bokone Bophirima Province.
It is an honour for me to be here today in this beautiful province. Thank you Premier for the hospitality and the warm reception accorded to me and my entourage.
I always feel at home when I am in a province such as this, a province still steeped in tradition and rich in culture. I was fascinated by the land scape and villages of the province when driving towards the capital. I was also captivated by the small towns that we navigated through to reach this destination.
As we meanders through Rustenburg, I was reminded of the hustle and bustle of the city that is my work place. When we reached this destination, I could not help it but appreciate the appropriateness of the advertisement that has been running both on radio and television. That advert is spot on as far as capturing the dynamics of this province. The advert captures in a few seconds the character of the province, i.e. villages, city and small dorpies.
The beautiful narrative of the geographic landscape of this province, lays out also the economic demographics of this place. I know that the province is popularly called the platinum province because of its rich deposit of precious metals. Parallel to this are vast areas of fertile land for agriculture. Planted within this vast area are villages that have to be sustained and be custodians of the wealth of the area. Pockets of small towns or dorpies are dotted alongside the meandering and very good road infrastructure.
As we drove past the Brits area, I was captivated by the green crops and huge irrigation sprays. A few kilometres later I saw a board sayingPilanesberg Game Reserve.
Information is power. Information dissemination remains the cornerstone of every marketing process. The Department of Communications that I am overseeing politically, is there to be the fountain of information and knowledge. Through the various platforms at its disposal or under its control, governments can communicate broadly and effectively. When I talk about government, I refer to national, provincial and local sphere of governance. What remains a key deciding factor, however, is whether our people know about this and are they practically exposed to these platforms.
National government through GCIS has created centres of information in all the provinces, including here in North West. In each district we have Thusong Service Centres. These were created to provide information to the immediate communities.
If we are to keep and achieve the promises made in the United Nations adopted Sustainable Development Goals to reduce poverty and improve the people’s lives, then we as policy makers must recognise the key and strategic role that Information and Communication plays in development.
A 28 million South Africans are living in poverty. About 18 million people live in the poorest 40% of households, and 10 million people live in the poorest 20% of households classified as ultra-poor. Most of the poor live in rural areas: 45% of the population is rural, but the rural areas contain 72% of those members of the total population who are poor. The poverty rate (the proportion of people falling below the poverty line) for rural areas is 71%.
We know that access to relevant information can lift rural communities out of poverty by empowering them with the tools to make choices that can provide them with sustainable livelihoods.
Premier, you will recall that on 12 � 13 October 2016, the Department of Rural, Environmental, and Agricultural Development in Bokone Bophirima in partnership with the District and Local Municipalities, and GCIS hosted the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Farmers Day, under the theme, Agriculture should adapt to Climate change. More than 405 participants joined the MMC for Agriculture in the Tlokwe & Ventersdorp Municipality, Councillors, farmers, SMME’s and youth to exchange information on preparing for the ploughing season, protecting livestock from drought and securing markets for their fresh produce.
As a result of this intervention, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) who came to assess the capacity of local producers, has committed to procure more of agricultural produce from local farmers. This will improve the sustainability of small scale farming in the province. More Izimbizo such as these are necessary to accelerate rural economic development in the province and I urge you to roll out more exhibitions and engagements of this nature.
The ANC Government’s Political Mandate
Our governing party characterizes the current phase of our constitutional democracy as constituting the second phase of transition from an apartheid state to a non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. This phase would be defined by its focus on economic transformation. Accordingly, the new administration has promised to embark on radical economic transformation. Indeed, nothing short of something radical will address the triple challenge and cycle of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Our young people must be at the centre of this radical economic transformation. Not many people are aware of this Premier Mahumapelo, that working together with South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) we launched the Workbased learning, Apprenticeship, Learnership and Internship Scheme (WALIS) Sound Technology, Film and Television Learnership programme on the 15th November 2016 with forty (40) youth as beneficiaries. These young people will form the first cohort of content producers who will tell this provinces stories on the new digital television channels envisaged once we complete our migration from analogue to digital broadcasting. This leap in technology will make it possible to establish multiple channels, offering new programming in the languages most relevant to the province.
The opportunities to export our broadcast content for profit to the international market remain untapped. Our partnership with China through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation must be explored fully, particularly our agreement to deepen people-to-people cultural exchanges. I encourage Bokone Bophirima to participate in the human capital development opportunities offered by China. I am certain Ambassador Tian Xuejun can share further details on this programme. We can also learn from our colleagues in Nigeria and their experience in developing Nollywood, Africa’s largest film production industry.
Radical economic transformation must be underpinned by investment in education to ensure sustainable economic growth. An educated workforce can pursue higher value economic activity that employs more people to grow the local economy. Job creation is crucial in reducing poverty and unemployment.
On 17 June 2016, all government departments in Greater Taung including Universities, FETs and Financial Institutions from outside Taung led by Department of Social Development held a youth empowerment outreach in the form of an information sharing session. The event was held at Mmabana Taung to empower youth with information that can assist career guidance. The presentations were from NDA, NYDA, Standard Bank, Taung College of Agriculture, Vuselela FET, Taletso FET, Office of the Premier-Youth Entrepreneur Services and Moral Regeneration, Technikon Free State, Uniwest and Mmabana Taung.
This is the kind of intervention that provides hope to our youth from our villages, townships and small dorpies who have not been exposed to the variety of professional and entrepreneurial careers available in the economy. The question we should ask is why more of these youth empowerment outreach programmes are not in place given the youthful demographic of the province? As importantly, what is the role of the many provincial state owned agencies that can contribute facilities, speakers and resources to scale up this intervention? Premier, I recommend that the launch of the provincial chapter of the State Owned Entity Communicators Association (SOECA) be expedited so that the activities of these agencies can be harnessed to support the rollout of more youth career days in VTSD’s. Underutilized municipal infrastructure must be visited and where feasible turned into Centre’s of learning, skills development and/or recreation for our young people.
Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) are vital to the economic development of our country. Indeed, it is now clear that ICTs are the modern economy’s greatest driver of innovation and growth.
On implementing the broadcasting digital migration programme,
Bokone Bophirima is one of the prioritised Provinces on the roll-out of Government subsidized free Set-Top Boxes (STBs) to poor TV-owning households in the border lying areas with Botswana to enjoy good picture quality and sound.
The opening of registrations for STB’s in Bokone Bophirima will be announced in 2017. Based on our assessment of the analogue switch off in the SKA area, the advent of Digital Terrestrial Television has created employment opportunities for young people as installers of the Set Top Boxes. Work must begin with the Department of Communication to plan Izimbizo to promote the uptake of registration, explain the benefits of STB’s, and identify youth that can participate in the installer programme.
On supporting the growth and development of the local production industry, we take our hats-off to the SABC for implementing the 90% local content policy. It is our firm view that the 90% local content is a true form of transforming the airwaves. We also note that the SABC has been using its North West studios to benefit emerging players from this province.
Whilst we know that both Northern Cape and North West were two of the most disadvantaged areas, when it comes to coverage. I urge you to work with us to ensure that our people enjoys the benefits brought about by the implementation of the digital terrestrial television.
On the development of the community media sector,
The Ministry is committed to the establishment of a strong and vibrant community media sector that is significantly contributing to the development of a democratic South Africa. This will create job opportunities for locals and help locals tell their own stories. We know that there are a number of community media projects that one of our agencies, the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) have supported in this province. To be precise this province has six (6) community print media and sixteen (16) community radio stations. In addition, we hope that the North West Provincial government would assist in ensuring that at least 30% of the provincial and local government advertising budget is directed towards community media as defined by the Media Development and Diversity Act, Act, No.14 of 2002. We are doing this because community media is an important layer of the three tier system of broadcasting.
Through GCIS media buying, government departments placed R36 million in community media during the 2015/16 financial year.
Provincial support for community media though is woefully inadequate. Bokone Bophirima communicators must move from declaring 2017 The Year of Communication to concrete action to support community media. We already know that these media platforms are effective. On 21 June 2016 the Matlosana Local Municipality, GCIS and the Department of Correctional Services provided a platform on community radio for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in Kanana to participate in developing solutions to combat gangsterism and petty crime.
Offenders, ex-offenders and youth from the community had an opportunity to interact and inspire each other towards crime free, anti-gangsterism and positive living. This interaction led to community buy in to establish an anti-gangsterism task team in the area. The MEC of Community subsequently presented the plan by government to build a police station in Kanana. Given the overwhelming evidence of the impact of development communication, provincial communicators must work more closely with community media and actively support them through both content and advertising.
On media transformation,
During the Department of Communications’ Budget Vote 2016/17 presentation in the National Assembly in May this year, we committed to Parliament and by extension our people, that media transformation is our flagship project for this financial year.
We committed ourselves to host a colloquium on Print Media Transformation with all role players including the public, which we hosted on 24-25 August 2016, at Freedom Park.
We also highlighted the huge disconnect between the expectations of both Government and Media on what exactly the role of the media should be.
To us, as a Department, Print media transformation will in this regard amongst others, address not only print media ownership, but also the ownership of printing press, the measurement of circulation, distribution channels and the assessment of regulatory instruments to regulate the affairs of media practitioners.
Another platform that is vital to economic coordination at the local level is the role played by broadcast media. In GCIS we have brought together local community radio stations with a reach of a minimum of 8million listeners. This platform is fast growing and easily accessible to local communities. From time to time GCIS organises experts to talk to communities on different topics.
dvertising in main stream media is sometimes beyond the reach of your ordinary local, upcoming business enterprises, but through community radios the information can be disseminated to the targeted audience in a much affordable costs.
I took a cursory look or what is technologically called ‘surfing the net. I visited websites of several municipalities, local, districts and metros. More than fifty percent of the sites were not updated and most were very thin on issues of economic development. I want to take this opportunity to call upon local government practitioners to make sure that their websites are well developed and populated with information. I am aware that different municipalities have many programmes and projects that they undertake to develop and empower their communities, but not much is said or disseminated to the residents. A community which is not informed, is a brewing pot of disgruntlement. Let us keep our communities informed through the available platforms.
Our Department is always available to assist struggling municipalities with how to populate and activate their different communication platforms. National Departments are directly linked with our Department in information sharing and dissemination. From time to time we do second officials to assist in closing communication gaps. We are also available to offer such to local governments. We have GCIS offices in every province, including the Western Cape.
We are aware that some of our print media projects in the North West have to travel to Bloemfontein in order to receive favourable printing discounts. We are aware that the MDDA negotiates bulk-printing discount but we cannot work on the basis of negotiation when there is evidence that, print media projects are not printed on time as agreed by both parties thus making them lose the little advertising revenues they got.
Therefore, media transformation is at the top of this administration’s agenda and featured strongly at last year’s National General Council of the African National Congress. Media transformation is more than just about race and gender.
One of our responsibilities through Brand South Africa is to market the country locally and internationally.
In this regard, Brand SA has set itself a vision to see South Africa acknowledged as a Top Nation Brand and a Top 30 Nation in the Global Competitiveness Index by 2020. In addition to this, it has a double mandate: to build South Africa’s nation brand reputation in order to improve South Africa’s global competitiveness, and to build pride and patriotism among South Africans and contribute to social cohesion and nation brand ambassadorship internationally and domestically respectively.
We urge the North West government to work with us in driving a common message locally and abroad in an effort that states that branding is about using strategic marketing to promote a country’s image, products, and attractiveness for tourism and foreign direct investment. We should as we do this package a common message on the VTSD programme in order to attract investment into the province.
In Conclusion Programme Director,
Villages, Townships and Small Dorpie development is a necessary process to improve the quality of life and economic wellbeing of people living in relatively isolated and sparsely populated areas. The Ministry of Communication, through its departments and entities extends a hand of partnership to the province to fulfil the NDP’s vision of building a better South Africa. A South Africa where the potential of all its citizens can be harnessed to transform the economy to reduce poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Let me join the voices that have already expressed their heartfelt condolences to the people of Cuba in the loss of their stalwart, comrade Fidel Castro, and also the Brazilian nation in their mourning of the plane tragedy. May the Almighty be with them in this trying times.
I thank you
Source: Department of Communications
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