by Staff Reporter


Effective communication across all platforms is arguably the most important trait for any successful leader to employ in the modern era in order to achieve maximum potential. This is something that Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo knows all too well.


Ayanda Dlodlo studied Shipping and Transport Management in the UK after having been involved in the armed struggle as a member of the ANC in exile and its Military wing uMkhonto weSizwe.

She joined the ANC in her teens and a year later, she went for her military training in Angola, completing her 10-month basic training course, and went on to a specialist 4-month course to prepare her for infiltration back into the country for political and military combat work.

Ayanda finished her training and joined the Transvaal Urban Machinery in Swaziland and was later deployed to the Transvaal Rural Machinery, based in Zimbabwe.

Ayanda was later sent for Military Intelligence Training for a year in Russia, in the former Soviet Union. Upon her return from training, Ayanda was deployed to Swaziland under the Natal Machinery. Later, she was assigned as Head of Intelligence for the Natal Machinery until her arrest and subsequent deportation to Zambia.

Please could you tell us more about the Ministry of Communications in terms of what its role and core mandate is?

Its mandate is to create an enabling environment for the provision of inclusive communication services to all South Africans in a manner that promotes socio-economic development and investment through broadcasting, new media, print media and other new technologies, and brand the country locally and internationally.

Its role is as follows:

  • Regulating the communications sector
  • Informing citizens of programmes and opportunities of the government
  • Creating an enabling environment for the media sector to thrive through media development and diversity
  • Being responsible for maintaining and developing the national brand through brand SA
  • Communicating the decisions of the cabinet to all South Africans.

What is your approach to your current role?

My approach is primarily on being an activist. We have not successfully and adequately communicated the success of the government. This then makes the task of communication vital. The successes and opportunities in the government system have yet to be fully communicated to our people to clearly understand and appreciate.

As the Minister, what does your role entail and what are the various functions that you are required to execute?

Our major role as the Ministry of Communications is, first and foremost, to bring the government closer to the people, which includes building strong relations with all sectors of society. In order for society to appreciate the work and role of the government, it is imperative that the government understands their needs, aspirations and points of weakness—as a people’s government, we are duty-bound to foster productive relations between ourselves and sectors of society as well as amongst them.

The challenge to bring society together helps to realise the objectives of our constitution, which, among others, promote a united and prosperous nation. I am expected to communicate the decisions of the government fortnightly through various media platforms including community media. Through the Film and Publication Board, we ensure through the classification of media products, that children are protected from graphic, harmful and hate products in the media sector.

What excites you most about your role and how do you maintain your passion from day to day?

Seeing the mandate of the government and the Department of Communications as discharged by the ruling party being realised is exciting, as well as working to ensure that we meet the target of migrating our broadcasting platforms from analogue to digital. The fact that our people receive more information from the government now and that we have increased our following on social media means our product offering has become so much more interesting and appealing.

What is your vision and what are your aims and objectives in terms of what you’d like to achieve as Minister?

Part of my contribution to South Africa is to provide a communication environment that provides people with the opportunity to learn and make the right choices for themselves and to contribute towards a government that creates opportunities and inform its people about such opportunities and how to access them. I also want to see a credible national broadcaster that does not compete with other broadcasters based on bias but on product offering and reliable services. The objectives of my department are mainly linked to the broader objectives of the government. In the main, these are about economic growth and the empowerment of South African citizens.

In our space, in particular, we seek to create growth and economic opportunities through programmes like the promotion of access and diversification of media platforms, migration from analogue to digital, the lowering of the cost to communicate and improving the image of the government.

What are some of the greatest challenges your office faces and which steps are being taken to overcome them?

One of the greatest challenges is institutionalising good governance and accountability in our departments and entities such as the MDDA and the SABC. Another challenge is to ensure policy alignment that responds appropriately to the needs of the people of South Africa and strengthening our oversight. The process of migrating the people of South Africa from analogue to digital television by December 2018 remains a priority.

What have some of your office’s greatest successes been since you’ve been Minister?

  • Greater cooperation with industry players,
  • Relative stability at the SABC,
  • Increased use of community media,
  • Diversification of information platforms such as Vukuzenzele,
  • Improvement of the Post-Cabinet briefing’s look and feel and the roll-out of Cabinet information at provincial and local levels.
  • How has South Africa’s political landscape changed over the years in terms of accepting women in leadership positions?

Much has been done to improve gender representation in different sectors of society. This is most visible in Parliament. Prior to 1994, Parliament had a mere 2.7% representation of women and following the first democratic elections, women’s representation in the National Assembly stood at 27.7%. In 1999, that figure increased to 30% and then to 32.7% in 2004. After the 2009 national elections, women’s representation reached 42%. Women Ministers now comprise 43% of the Cabinet.

We have many women in leadership positions and government structures, such as the Department of Women, are in place to improve the status of women. This is a work in progress and more still needs to be done as there are still sectors where women in leadership positions are still a minority.

Are women on the African continent better positioned than women internationally in terms of the strides made towards accepting women in leadership positions?

Women the world over still experience institutionalised patriarchy throughout society, globally. Africa has, in some instances, performed better in institutions supporting democracy like parliaments and non-governmental organisations but women internationally have better chances in the corporate sector than their African counterparts.

What are some of the biggest stereotypes women still face when entering into positions of leadership?

The patriarchal system has largely excluded women in leadership positions. For a long time, women were regarded as incapable of holding certain leadership positions. We have seen that change over the years—in the government there is an increased number of women ministers, churches have women leaders and now we see the leadership of women in chieftaincy positions being recognised. The ANC in parliament, legislatures and councils contribute to South Africa being one of the world’s best performers in terms of women’s representation in legislatures in all spheres.

You’ve had a long, successful career thus far—what would you regard as some of your greatest achievements?

My journey from being a young woman in the liberation struggle to being appointed as Minister in April 2017 has not been without challenges. Every hardship and challenge experienced during my life’s journey has proved to be a valuable learning experience as I have always come out stronger and better prepared to face life’s new challenges.

Who are some of the role models that have had a positive, defining impact on your life?

There are a few people that I can truly say have impacted my life positively, whether I have encountered them personally or professionally.

One person who stands out head and shoulders above everyone is the ANC’s longest-serving President, Oliver Tambo.

To me, he is one of the world’s greatest leaders. Through his leadership, I learnt humility, love and service to the people. I have encountered leaders in my life but none comes close in astute and almost unblemished leadership as O.R Tambo.

The resilience and steadfastness of the female warriors of our land have always served as an inspiration to me. The stories of Mmadinoge and Mmanthatise, among others, and the story of Nandi, the mother of King Shaka are inspirational and always were to all young women of the struggle. Alexandra Kollontai, too, was one of those women we read about as young revolutionaries whose life and times inspired us.

The role of my commanders and commissars who took me through training in MK have had a huge impact in shaping me to be the disciplined and resolute servant of our people. My parents, through the upbringing they afforded me, ensured I was exposed to very good education at schools in Swaziland but they also created a warm home for their children

What are the keys to successfully balancing your career and personal life?

My personal life is very simple and similar to that of a hermit. I spend a lot of time either at work or alone reading or winding down by watching reality TV.

I have a few friends, who are not part of the political circle, who mean the world to me after my children, mother, siblings and nieces. I enjoy cooking and have abandoned baking because of weight fluctuations. I am currently writing a book but I have a long way to go. 

comments powered by Disqus


This edition

Issue 411


Leadership_Mag #FridayReads": To succeed you have to lead! You have to do what's best for the people; you must bring the best out… 2 days - reply - retweet - favorite

Leadership_Mag "Great leadership is about human experiences. It's not a formula or a program,it is a human activity that comes fro… 3 days - reply - retweet - favorite

Leadership_Mag Why South Africa needs to stimulate female entrepreneurship. Read more... #Entrepreneurship… 5 days - reply - retweet - favorite