City of Tshwane wastes R1.6m to thwart internet connectivity rollout

By Adriana Randall MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Finance:

The City of Tshwane (CoT) has incurred legal costs of R1.6 million in an attempt to prevent the rollout of much needed fibre optic broadband to the city’s residents and businesses.

In 2011 Link Africa, a digital solutions company, sought to install a fibre-optic network through the CoT by making use of the city’s existing sewer and storm water infrastructure.

City Manager, Jason Ngobeni, placed restrictions on Link Africa’s plans and last year sought and interdict from the Pretoria High Court requiring that the company gain permission to access the city’s infrastructure before carrying out work.

The interdict was not granted which led the CoT to challenge the matter in the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court ruled in favour of Link Africa forcing the city to concede.

The attempt to thwart a project that will have massive benefits for residents of Tshwane is beyond belief.

Over a R1 million in state funds have been wasted in the process – money which could have been more wisely spent on improving the lives of the city’s residents.

It is evident that the CoT does not place economic growth and opportunities high on its list of priorities.

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Posted in ICT

Gauteng government refuses to disclose EduSolutions tender documents

By Ashor Sarupen MPL, DA Gauteng Spokesperson on ICT:

The Gauteng Department of Education has refused to disclose the tender documents relating to the provision of e-textbooks, tablets and laptops to schools in response to my application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

In the response to the application and previous questions on this matter, it appears that the department didn’t bother to go to an open tender for e-textbooks, tablets and laptops, but rather just extended the scope of the existing EduSolutions contract.

Click here to view the response.

The basis for the denial was that it would reveal confidential financial information of the company, which raises even more questions about how much the contract was worth and what the recent ICT additions are worth.

EduSolutions has a chequered history on properly delivering on its contracts, most recently with the Limpopo textbooks saga.

The fact that the contract did not go to an open tender also strikes a blow for the ANC Gauteng’s promises to incubate small business, and black businesses in particular, as it appears the same select companies get contracts over and over in the province.

The DA will continue to probe this contract until all details are made public.

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Gauteng government and Tshwane duplicating broadband projects

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.

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Posted in ICT