6 March 2018

South Africa: ANCYL Calls for Probe Into Eastern Cape Broadband Contract

A full investigation into the payment of an alleged R228m to a company for the provision of broadband services to the Eastern Cape is being demanded by the ANC Youth League's Alfred Nzo Region.

"It is worse that such a payment was done as a prepayment, with the company given free money without doing any government work. This is unheard [of]," it said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The award of this contract to a Western Cape-based company is an insult to the people of this province, and a serious injustice to the concept of localisation and radical economic development that the ANC steers us towards. The Eastern Cape is constituted of more than 70% [young] people ... playing some role in the ICT sector, and have been looking forward to opportunities of this nature."

City Press last week reported that the provincial government and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) were in battle over the broadband project after the provincial director-general, Marion Mbina-Mthembu, accused SITA of giving the province bad advice, which would have resulted in it paying three times more than what a similar venture would have cost the Western Cape government.

SITA chief executive Setumo Mohapi threatened legal action and called for an investigation, it reported.

The project was to link the province's government departments with WiFi, through the provision of wide-area networks.

Mohapi told City Press that the province had a "pre-determined" service provider and an open bidding process had not been followed.

The request, Mohapi told the publication, was for an "exclusive appointment" of a specific service provider.

Mbina-Mthembu denied that R228m had been paid towards the project, saying R15.9m of the R57m had been paid.

The youth league on Tuesday called on Premier Phumulo Masualle to commission a forensic investigation into how the funds had been used.

"What disturbs us the most is the fact that the contract was never approved by National Treasury, and as such the [director general in the Eastern Cape] must [accept] full responsibility for this injustice.

"The premier and the DG must tell the public why tender processes were never followed on the contract."

The premier's spokesperson, Sonwabo Mbananga, declined to comment.

Source: News24

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