Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says the clean audits of the Department of Communications (DoC) and the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) is a sign of good governance and adhering to strict financial policies and practices.
The DoC has a critical role to play in creating an enabling environment for the provision of inclusive communication services to all South Africans in a manner that promotes socio-economic development and investment.
It is therefore very critical that the ministry leads by example in ensuring that its operations are underpinned by good governance. These clean audit reports are proof that we are doing something right in the Ministry, said the Minister in a statement.
The DoC has, since its inception, made notable developments regarding its performance and human capital.
However, Mokonyane said the 2017/18 financial year has been a challenging period exacerbated by the high turnover of executive authorities and accounting officers in the department. Despite this challenge, the department continued to function optimally and deliver a strong performance, as underlined by its results in the last three years.
The DoC achieved 25 of the 30 targets planned for the year financial year -- a performance figure of 83%.
The five unachieved targets (17%) were largely experienced in core functions of the department's work, namely the finalisation of a new broadcasting policy (Audio Visual-Content and the related bill), the rollout and successful completion of BDM [broadcasting digital migration] and stringent oversight of entities owing to the limited human capacity, said the Minister.
An improvement plan has been developed for continuous implementation and monitoring of progress on the targets. The plan, the Minister said, includes a renewed focus on finalising a new vision for broadcasting through an audio-visual content policy and rapid roll-out of the BDM Programme.
The DoC spent 99.3% of its allocated budget for the 2017/18 financial year, while the GCIS spent 98.1%. The GCIS has made significant strides in implementing development communication in the past year, with firm plans to achieve even more in the next year.
A total of 1 727 communication activations were implemented through malls and taxi ranks, blitzes in trains and Thusong Service Centres. The department distributed over 23 million copies of Vukuzenzele, a publication that is crucial in areas where there is less access to mainstream media. Various government departments benefit from GCIS media engagement services, the Minister said.
Concerns over some entities
However, Mokonyane remains concerned about the performance of some of the department's entities, particularly the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
The public broadcaster received a disclaimer audit opinion from the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) and this is a regression from the 2016/17 financial year, when the SABC received an adverse audit opinion.
Brand SA has also regressed from the clean audit received in the past financial year to an unqualified report.
The FPB (Film and Publication Board), ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) and MDDA (Media Development and Diversity Agency) received unqualified reports.
The disclaimer audit received by the SABC and unqualified audits for Brand SA, FPB, ICASA and MDDA require an intervention from the department to assist and support the entities to improve their status.
We have established a turnaround task team comprising the Department of Communications and National Treasury to work with the SABC in this regard. Audit improvement plans are developed for areas that were highlighted in the management and audit reports, said the Minister.
Source: South African Government News Agency