State newspaper hits the streets

2011-07-23 16:15

President Jacob Zuma’s former spokesperson Vusi Mona has made a low-key return to news media as editor-in-chief of Vuk’uzenzele, the newly launched government newspaper.

The newspaper is published by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), which is based in the Presidency and is headed by CEO Jimmy Manyi.

Mona, also a former Rhema Church spokesperson and previously a City Press editor, will be editor-in-chief of Vuk’uzenzele while former Beeld journalist ­Tyrone Seale will be its editor.

Until recently Seale was managing editor of Vuk’uzenzele magazine, which has been replaced by the tabloid, and he holds the position of ­content and writing chief director at the government organ.

The tabloid-size newspaper was approved by Cabinet last month.

With a print run of between 1.7?million and two?million, Vuk’uzenzele is the biggest newspaper in South Africa.

Mona, who also holds the position of deputy chief executive at GCIS, left City Press in 2003 after the publication of a story claiming that then director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka was an apartheid-era spy.

The publication of the story later led to the formation of the Hefer Commission, which subsequently cleared Ngcuka.

Earlier this year, Media24-owned Paarl Media Gauteng was awarded the R30 million contract to print Vuk’uzenzele.

President Zuma was featured on the front pages of Vuk’uzenzele’s first two editions.

The sample edition – published in April – ran a story headlined, in bold, “The year of job creation”, in which Zuma declares that decent work is the only way to deal with poverty.

The 16-page tabloid officially hit the streets this month after a brief delay while awaiting Cabinet approval. It was initially scheduled to be published in April after the magazine it replaced was stopped in March.

In the sample and first edition, Zuma is pictured answering calls at the presidential hotline call-centre, and meeting his Chinese counterpart President Hu Jintao and “key religious and spiritual leaders”.

The presidential hotline has a dedicated full page in both editions covering complaints and responses.

This will be a permanent feature. The launch edition’s front page sports a picture of a beaming Zuma and Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele promising “better roads, more jobs”.

In April, Ndebele launched the R22 billion road maintenance project, Zibambele, in KwaZulu-Natal.

Other politicians featured and profiled are Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana and her arts and culture counterpart Paul Mashatile. Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula graces the sports page.

Vuk’uzenzele carries a four-page, monthly employment news and job-creation supplement, Employment News.

The supplement carries advertisements posted by government departments and entities including the Presidency, parastatals Eskom and Transnet, as well as the Western Cape and North West governments.

The only private company that advertises in both editions is JD Group-owned Price ’n Pride.

GCIS draws most of its revenue from the sale of photos, videos and advertising space in Vuk’uzenzele.

At the time of going to press, Mona hadn’t responded to City Press’ request for comment.

» Vuk’uzenzele is available in all 165 Thusong service centres and GCIS offices


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