Themba Ngada, Bisho
Why does the South African government undermine its own communication capacity?
The Bell Pottinger scandal happened and the Digital Vibes scandal happened not in the absence of communication practitioners in the country who could do the job, I have been a member of Prisa since 1995 and my membership compels me to uphold the Code of Conduct binding all members of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa.
What was wrong with Bell Pottinger scandal is that it was a foreign company (meaning that we do not have such companies here), that there was no competitive bid for that work, that it was not an SMME nor a company owned by black people, youth, women or persons with disabilities; and that public money was used. Worst of all, was that they mounted a campaign that was undoing gains made against the divisive policies of the previous government between black and white people.
Digital Vibes is owned by people who did admin work for a government department, a department that has its own communication capacity, and the services of GCIS at its disposal. They have cashed in on the Covid-19 communication in the same way as the HIV/Aids pandemic made many millionaires.
To alleviate the burden on the public health system, we have been knocking on the door of that department with proposals on campaigns to educate the population about everyday diseases, primary health-care and preventative health through traditional herbs.
Who holds the communication contract for the diabetes campaign, the hypertension campaign, the TB campaign, the washing of hands campaign, the toilet etiquette campaign, the hygienic food handling campaign…and the most important one for me, the Organ Donor Foundation campaign?
We are told there is no money, the department nationally and in provinces has been drained by medico-legal claims.