Provincial Government Spokesperson Phuti Seloba has commemorated two decades in government communications on Saturday, diligently serving alongside politicians whom he witnessed taking up other challenges elsewhere over time.
After an initial stint at the then South African Communications Service, Seloba joined Water Affairs and Forestry where he worked with Ministers Kader Asmal and Ronnie Kasrils respectively. When Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi was Agriculture MEC in Limpopo, Seloba was there to take care of the communication of departmental matters. In such a manner did he build the image of ex-Premier Sello Moloto, who now serves as South African ambassador in Finland, when he was MEC for Health. Seloba then spent five years with Moloto’s successor, Seaparo Sekoati who currently holds the portfolio of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism MEC. The same counted for African National Congress (ANC) Parliamentarian Dikeledi Magadzi while she was MEC for Health and Education in Limpopo respectively.
Way back in the Nineties communicators could not rely on the luxury of technology to their advantage. Seloba recalls using pagers, receiving messages from superiors who would be phoning at a certain time when checking in at a pre-identified establishment and returning to the office on Thursdays to submit reports before being out of reach again from Mondays onwards. Nowadays three top notch devices demand his attention, proving uninterrupted continuation of a conversation with him rather difficult.
Charged with promoting the image and credibility of the Limpopo government, the order is a tall one. Somehow it is apt for a boy from the province to be tasked with the responsibility of redeeming the image of the province from what it was into one of a formidable, responsive and very compassionate public service institution. Seloba proudly speaks of his association with Ga-Matlala, where he grew up herding cattle in between participating in debating and table tennis at school level. Growing into an eternal political activist, opportunities to communicate the affairs of student bodies while studying at the University of Venda prepared him for future endeavours.
For many years he has been operating in the corner, but now finds himself in the centre, he explains. He singles out proactive communication of government plans as the biggest challenge and not waiting for the Premier to do so in his annual State of the Province address. Despite image building and branding, he heads the entire communicators’ corps across the province, a team he recently brought together for a communicators’ forum.
He expresses the belief that improvement is visible in certain areas while hope and confidence in the provincial administration have been regained. This can be measured against the turn-out of an estimated 6 000-strong audience at a monthly Executive Council (Exco) lekgotla as recently was the case at Tauatsoala, he remarks.
He reflects on the provincial government ensuring Limpopo becomes the best place to live, work and school in for the benefit of future generations.
Since the intervention in Limpopo major strides have been observed in various areas and the finances of the province are very stable, he reiterates. He describes the current provincial administration as pro-active, talking to their people and presenting a situation. With local government being an extension of the provincial government, the need exists for synchronising the downward flow of communications for a ward councillor to be able to communicate issues to a community, he explains. “We need to extend this philosophy to the most remote of the remote so we can all sleep peacefully in believing and seeing our democratic machinery in operation.”
An incessant ringtone of one of the snazzy gadgets on the table interrupts the conversation. It is a call he cannot ignore, as is the case with all the others that demand of a boy from Ga-Matlala to defend the good image of the province he calls home.
Story: YOLANDE NEL