Of swart gevaar and information empowerment

2014-07-21 13:45

Last week, as we presented the last budget vote of the government and communications system, we experienced a renewed sense of what can only be termed “swart gevaar” from the opposition.

While the opposition DA agrees it is the duty of government to tell a good story – it hastened to add that such a duty is not one of government.

Hence its suspicion over the formation of this new ministry aimed at information empowerment for our people.

The Government Communication and Information System has over the years taken a deliberate decision to spend money on new and community media.

The DA lambasted this, claiming it would reduce the independence of these community media organisations.

So our intention to support community media organisations – a reason for the existence of the Media Development and Diversity Agency – is, according to the DA, nothing but a ploy to brainwash these community stations.

The SABC saga has exposed further hypocrisy. I am called upon to overrule the board on the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as the broadcaster’s chief operating officer. Where is the call for the independence of the SABC in this call for interference?

It is important to put a few things into perspective as we prepare to live with the reality of such a ministry.

Communicating with citizens is a constitutional obligation. The fact that it may not have been at its optimum in the last 20 years is something that needs to be changed, not perpetuated.

Parliament – a forum open to the public – insists that all departments must produce annual reports indicating how they have spent taxpayers’ money.

Producing these reports for the 400-odd MPs cannot be considered to be the same as communicating with the 50?million South Africans they represent.

Communities involved in the service-delivery protests that we have seen have cited the lack of information from government as a reason for their frustrations, for example.

Of course there are deeper reasons for protest. But information exchange between councillors and communities would clarify matters of expectation as to when certain services will be delivered.

The DA argues that spending advertising revenue on community media would cause these stations to lose their independence.

Strange that the commercial media, some of whose revenue is heavily dependent on public funds, are never considered to lack independence as a result of this.

This view smacks of hypocrisy that seeks to maintain the status quo. We are determined to radically transform the South African media landscape.

Muthambi is minister of communications

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.