Address by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP in the Parliamentary Debate: Budget Vote 1 – Presidency (12 June 2013)

Mister Speaker, honourable President and Deputy President, and honourable Members,

The UDM supports Budget Vote 1.

We have taken note of Government’s decision to name and shame people who are found guilty of corruption.

I would like to join this campaign by sharing with the Nation the negative effect of political directives on government tenders, which create a breeding ground for corruption.  You will recall that political directives gave birth to the controversial Arms Deal and other related transactions.

For instance, in January this year, Minister Pule received and together with her senior officials from the Department of Communications and Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA), approved a half a billion Rand application from Cell C for the rollout of broadband infrastructure at eMalahleni Local Municipality.

Shockingly, this application was approved without being subjected to the normal adjudication process as required by Electronic Communications Act 36 of 2005.

Had it not been for the refusal on the 16th of April 2013 of Mr Mmatlou Morudu, USAASA Executive: Business Development Service, to implement the project after receiving an instruction from his Chief Executive Officer, Mr Zam Nkosi, half a billion Rand would have been released for it.

If your Office does not intervene, chances are that Mr Morudu will most probably be removed from his position in order to ensure unrestrained looting of State resources.

It is strange that Government was prepared to pay half a billion Rand to this infrastructure at eMalahleni Local Municipality, when it only paid  R13 million for the same infrastructure rollout at Msinga Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, a municipality twice the size of eMalahleni Local Municipality. It makes you wonder!

Another example of the rampant looting of State resources in this Department involves a multimillion Rand tender awarded to Mthinthe Communications (Pty) Ltd to rollout broadband infrastructure to 120 centres around the country.

According to USAASA’s 2012/2013 Exception Report, the total Rand value amount of the 80 per cent subsidy for Mthinthe should have been R 24.1 million but the final Rand value subsidy amount given to Mthinthe was R33.1 million. This means that Mthinthe was overpaid by a whopping R8.9 million. In addition, this lucky company was further paid R2.3 million for the branding of Mpumalanga centres, which was never done.

Close scrutiny of the first phase of the project reveals an interesting statistic, that is, 23 out of these 33 sites are in KwaZulu-Natal, while only 8 are in Mpumalanga and 2 in the North West Province.

The deadline for the connection of these centres was set for the 31st of March 2013.

However, according to USAASA 2012/2013 Exception Report, as at the 7th of May 2013, only 9 out of 120 Mthinthe centres were operational.

Conspicuous in this broadband infrastructure rollout programme is the absence of plans for other Provinces. This leaves the children of other Provinces have to fend for themselves in order to get access to computer laboratories with internet connection.

We therefore demand that your Government publishes the infrastructure map – with identified areas, kinds of infrastructure (especially broadband) and timelines – so that South Africans can see where this infrastructure development is happening.

I thank you.