By Ashor Sarupen MPL, DA Gauteng Spokesperson on ICT:
The City of Tshwane is aggressively marketing its roll-out of broadband to schools as a success of the metro, while the Gauteng Provincial Government has budgeted R1.2 billion for the same purpose across the province – and has been in the pipeline for the last three years.
In response to an oral question in the Gauteng Legislature, the MEC for Finance, Barbara Creecy, said that there was no need to co-ordinate broadband projects as the Province and Metro’s had different objectives.
However, it is obvious that at least one objective – schools – is being duplicated.
More alarmingly, the ANC governed metros in Gauteng and the ANC run provincial government have only just begun making sure their broadband networks are interoperable and have only recently shared maps of their networks.
The lack of co-ordination also means that there could be duplication of laying of expensive cable in the ground to provide government with connectivity in the same areas.
MEC Creecy attempted to spin this duplication by saying that savings can now be made in Tshwane to spend in more rural municipalities like Seidbeng and the West Rand.
However, the Gauteng Broadband Network was going to cover these areas anyway.
This political spin does not address the fact that there was no coordination between Gauteng and the City of Tshwane that has led to both spending money on the same thing.
Broadband projects are running into billions of rand being spent by every sphere of government, and the lack of coordination is deeply troubling.
By contrast, the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town do coordinate and are realising actual cost savings on their respective broadband projects.
It is high time MEC Creecy and metro mayors in Gauteng sat down and sorted out duplication rather than spend billions in public funds on the exact same things to market ‘successes’ ahead of an election.
The DA will follow up this issue to ensure that the Gauteng Department of Finance now commits itself to saving money by using the Tshwane broadband network to meet its objectives as the MEC indicated in the Legislature today.