The centralisation of government departments’ advertising was not new, Cabinet spokesman Jimmy Manyi said on Monday.
“What surprises me is that this is not a brand new thing. It is already in operation since June 2011,” Manyi said following reports in The Times that he was tightening his grip on advertising by government departments.
The Democratic Alliance claimed the centralisation was an attempt “to strengthen Manyi’s propaganda machine and to shield the government’s advertising expenditure from public scrutiny.
“Government communication should be about providing non-partisan information to as many people as possible, and not about serving party-political purposes, as Mr Manyi regularly does,” the DA said.
However, Manyi said the allegations were “unfounded”.
“They must understand that it is the role of the Government Communication and Information Services (GCIS) to co-ordinate government’s messaging. That’s why we are here.”
Manyi said the centralisation made business sense.
“Government has derived a lot more discounts using this method. There is also no middleman. Before we even start, the middleman costs have been cut.”
In The Times article Manyi, who spoke at a community media indaba on Saturday, said that at a national level the government wanted a model where all departments gave their advertising to one centre — the GCIS.
The newspaper reported that each of the 34 governmental departments had its own funds for advertising and was in charge of its own advertising by appointing an advertising agency.
At the indaba, the funding and lack of government advertising in community media was negotiated by the GCIS and the Media Development and Diversity Agency with community representatives, The Times reported.
According to newspaper community media had complained that the government was ignoring them when allocating advertising, instead placing advertisements with mainstream media at a much greater cost.
Last year, Manyi said the government, through the GCIS, would monitor and enforce adherence to the “government brand”.
Non-Cabinet weeks would, among others, be used for media briefings to communicate progress on the implementation of government’s programme of action. The implementation of the strategy would result in a much more informed and empowered public, Manyi said told the Times.