DA calls for Minister Cwele to explain his WOAN statement

The controversial statement by Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Dr Siyabonga Cwele, published in the media on 20 February 2017, stating that the controversial proposed national wireless network received widespread support from the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector is apparently untruthful.
I have written to the acting chairperson of the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services, Ms Dikeledi Tsotetsi, to urgently call a meeting at which the Minister and communications network operators can put on the record the substance of the interactions between them.
The minister’s media statement was issued after his National ICT Forum hosted a meeting of ICT sector players on February 17 to discuss – in the main – the controversial national Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN) outlined in the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper gazetted last October.
The minister maintained that, “the delegates supported the introduction of the Wholesale Open Access Network and made presentations on how it can be implemented”. He emphasised that now there was general agreement on the issue the focus needs to be on ‘speedy implementation’ of the policy.
It is important to note that the minister’s statement used the word ‘Wholesale’ instead of ‘Wireless’, which is the word used in the White Paper to name the network.
The ICT sector has been publicly silent on the minister’s statement. It took an article by Mr Leon Louw of the Free Market Foundation, who attended the February 17 meeting, to state that the Minister’s statement was untruthful on agreement about the WOAN. This article was attacked by the Minister’s spokesman Mr Siya Qoba.
My conversations with sector players this past week lead me to believe that Mr Louw’s criticism has credence.
This prompted my request to the committee’s acting chairperson to schedule a meeting for the last week on March at which both the Minister and the network operators can publicly state their plans and objections so pending legislation can be drafted to avoid lengthy litigation that may well be the outcome of laws on this controversial issue.