Government Communication and
Information System (GCIS)

Stanley Sixolile Ntakumba
Assistant Director (Research), Government Communication and
Information System (GCIS), South African Government (reporting
Ministerially to the Presidency).

The role of GCIS is the co-ordination of the whole information and communication system of the government. The vision of the department is 'helping to meet the information and communication needs of government and the people, to ensure a better life for all'. So in the context of development informatics, their role is largely in the generation of information. Their mandate is to ensure that information about what government does reaches the citizens. The priority of his area - research - is to identify the information needs of citizens and to ensure that the systems are in place to meet those needs. They seek to provide information in ways that are effective for the people, and make a positive difference to their lives. One relevant program of GCIS is the multi-purpose community centres (MPCC). He saw the IITB model as very relevant to the MPCC agenda. The idea of the MPCCs is to bring government closer to the people, and almost all MPCCs include a telecentre. GCIS contacts the local communities, assesses the information needs, then assist the local community in bringing together relevant partners including for example NGOs. GCIS has a whole-of-government role in making sure that all government departments (e.g. health, Home Affairs) make their services available through the MPCCs. The MPCC program includes partnerships with the business sector in providing both resources and services. Through Dr Braam van der Vyver's research team, GCIS Directorate:Research has partnered with Monash South Africa in understanding the public use of ICTs at the MPCCs, in the form of e-governance/e-democracy research. Observations from some of the research done is that the MPCCs have different 'personalities' relating to their contexts. The MPCCs are mostly targeted at rural communities that were not previously reached by the government.