The political changes in South Africa since 2004 had an impact on all government operations. Amongst other things, the manner in which government communicates with the people had to change to reflect the new political dispensation. Prior to 1994, the South African Communication Service (SACS) was required to communicate with South Africans on behalf of other government departments about their activities and to coordinate pronouncements coming out of various state agencies. After the 1994 democratic elections, the SACS was however found to be incompatible with the new democratic set up. This led to the formation of the Communications Task Group (Comtask) whose mandate was to review government communication and to make recommendations on possible improvements. The Comtask found that most government functions, structures and personnel were largely uncoordinated and inefficient. The inquiry also found that government functions were characterised by a lack of strategic planning and co-ordination at all levels of government. As a result, it recommended that a new structure to be called the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) should be established. Amongst other things, the role of the GCIS is to manage government‘s campaigns which are meant to ensure that there is interaction between government and the people. Against this background the main objective of the study is therefore to analyse the role of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) in the strategic management of government communication, with specific reference to Imbizo as a strategy for participatory development communication. The focus will be on the communication strategy framework for Imbizo, its implementation and the extent to which it encourages and/or inhibits participation by the people. Literature on the theoretical approaches to participatory development communication, strategic management, with emphasis on communication has been reviewed. The purpose of this review was to provide a framework within which the role of the GCIS in strategic management of government communication with reference to Imbizo. In order to achieve the objectives of this study, this study has adopted a qualitative approach with field research and content analysis as the main research methodologies. The choice of two research methodologies was necessitated by the fact that using more that one methodology helps to ensure that the validity of the study is achieved. This study has concluded that the adaptation of the traditional Imbizo for use in government’s interaction with the people is a good initiative. However, it has become evident that for it to become even more effective and useful, there is a need to involve the people during the planning, implementation and evaluation of the interaction. The other challenge is that of the need for the development of community-specific communication strategies which are in line with the broader Imbizo communication strategy. Further research need to be conducted on the use of existing traditional communication channels.
Thesis (PhD (Communication Management))--University of Pretoria, 2007.