Government communication workforce to be upskilled

As a response to the fast-changing communication environment, the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) will fast track the upskilling of its workforce and upgrade the Information and Communications Technology systems to meet new demands.

“We live in a rapidly changing world in which technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace. During COVID-19, the GCIS embraced technological platforms to facilitate remote meetings, connectivity and communication,” Minister in the Presidency is Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said on Tuesday in parliament.

Delivering the GCIS budget for the 2023/24 financial year, the Minister said technology has now become the norm and has allowed the GCIS to expand its operational capacity to reach a much larger audience.

“However, these technologies are only the tip of the iceberg and game-changing technology, such as the new ChatGPT app, is now being used by government departments in other countries to streamline their workflow. We will investigate the ethical legitimacy of such innovations as part of modernising and updating our communications practices.

“But we are also a country where many communities still primarily rely more on the traditional methods of communication such as face-to-face engagements. In this regard, the GCIS will continue to play a central role in supporting the Presidential outreach imbizo programme,” the Minister said.

This week, residents of the Western Cape, Paarl in particular, will engage directly with the President and Members of the Executive at the District Development Model Presidential Imbizo in Paarl.

“Izimbizo are a critical platform for dialogue between government and citizens and stakeholder groups, as all of us have a responsibility and opportunity to building the South Africa we want," Ntshavheni said.

She said the GCIS is therefore committed to providing communication that not only touches and changes lives, but also relevant and easily understood by all people.

“The department will strive to speak to every audience in a medium or language they understand, and will work to blend its communication approach to reach those with or without access to resources and technology, and also those living in the far-flung areas of the country,” the Minister said.

Transforming media

Ntshavheni said government has a duty to ensure a transformed marketing, advertising and communications sector.

“The recognition that news media are operating on an uneven playing field has prompted the GCIS to work with the industry leaders through a Ministerial-appointed Steering Committee on Print and Digital Media Transformation and Revitalisation to consider proposals that can be implemented by the South African Government.

"In March 2022, we appointed and launched the Marketing, Advertising and Communication (MAC) Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Charter Council as our response to a call by Parliament to transform and sustain the advertising sector,” the Minister said.

To deal with persisting challenges of optional adherence to current communication norms and standards, Cabinet has approved the development of a White Paper Policy, which is the highest form of policy-making.

“The development of the White Paper Policy marks the beginning of promoting compliance with legislative frameworks governing the implementation of the government communication system across all three spheres of government to enable meaningful coordination and coherence of messages,” she said.

The goal of the White Paper policy framework will provide the institutional arrangement needed to support the dissemination of information to citizens.

Celebrating 30 years of democracy

As the country commences the countdown towards 30 Years of Democracy, both the GCIS and BrandSA will focus on outlining the gains of the democratic government while creating a bridge between government and citizens to address the current challenges.

The GCIS will partner with community media to promote the 30 Years of Democracy engagements and to also communicate the achievements.

Ntshavheni explained that the 30 Years of Democracy campaign is not a government only endeavor but a whole of society matter.

“In this regard, the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) will strengthen its support for the community media to become viable and sustainable entities that are adapted to the use of technology in the age of digital media. The MDDA will work with the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA) on the training and participation of community media on the NEMISA Streaming Platform,” Ntshavheni said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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