Department of Communications gets clean audit with “skeleton staff”

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi says despite a skeleton staff, the Ministry obtained its clean audit without making use of any consultants in the year that ended in March 2016.

The Minister said the department considers concerns previously raised by the Auditor General – both in the department and entities under it – very seriously and that several interventions are being implemented to address them.

She said this when she briefed the Portfolio Committee on Communications on the annual report of the department for the financial year 2015/16.

“The … ‘hot potato’ that the AG audited in the past was the issue of the use of consultants. When it comes to … the 2015/16 financial year, you will see the DoC has implemented and achieved its planned target and then there is a clean audit. [The clean audit] was only achieved with only 65 employees.

“In terms of the organogram, we are supposed to have 400 employees. Due to a lack of funding, we are currently sitting with 65 employees,” said the Minister, noting that no consultants were used in the establishment of the department.

The Minister said the department utilised the services of the 65 employees, who have had to work extra hours beyond the call of duty.

In other instances, the Minister said the department had to borrow staff from the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).

Despite this challenge, Minister Muthambi said the department managed to achieve a number of targets in the current financial year.

Presenting the department’s performance, Acting Director General Ndivhuho Norman Munzhelele, said out of the department’s 82 targets planned for the 2015/ 16 financial year, 52 targets were achieved.

“Overall, the department achieved 63% of the 2015/16 planned deliverables. The department also managed to overachieve on five of its planned targets,” he said.

During the year under review, the department exceeded several targets on its performance plan. This includes the fact that 303 360 set-top boxes were produced and delivered to the SA Post Office warehouses, against a target of 235 000.

Munzhelele said the SABC broadcasted 60% of SA’s content, reflecting SA perspectives and cultural diversity against a 55% target.

Ministry addressing AG concerns

Minister Muthambi said, meanwhile, that the department is implementing several measures to address the Auditor General’s previous concerns.

She said the Ministry normally has quarterly meetings where progress is reviewed.

“When the [Ministry] does an implementation plan, it should address all the things that the AG is raising. Through our interaction with the AG, together with the entities, this has helped us a lot to improve on matters of importance,” she said.

The department, along with all entities reporting to it, has – under the Minister’s instruction – established a CFOs’ Forum, where the CFO of the department and the CFOs of all the entities that report to the Ministry meet regularly.

“We have also deemed it fit that [as a new department], we need to have monthly meetings with chairs of boards and CFOs, wherein I chair the meeting to make sure that there is compliance.

“That has proven to be very useful because in terms of this issue of quarterly meetings that we have, we also get a report wherein if there are entities that have incurred irregular expenditure, they have to give us the details of the expenditure and the progress on consequence management,” she said.

GCIS commemorates Vukuzenzele’s 100th edition

The Minister said in June this year, the GCIS inaugurated the 100th edition of the government newspaper Vukuzenzele, which first published its issue in 2005.

“The newspaper is the only newspaper in the country that is published in all South African languages and it also includes Braille.

“The newspaper has since August 2015 introduced the paid for government recruitment and generic government communication advertising section with the aim of generating advertising revenue to be used to increase the print run and frequency of the paper.

“For the period under review, we have had 1 920 development communications campaigns that were coordinated and implemented through the various platforms and more than 47 million people were reached through this intervention,” she said.

Now read: What South Africa’s failed finance minister did to his new department

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Department of Communications gets clean audit with “skeleton staff”