Jo’burg fibre broadband fiasco adds to ANC ICT woes

Sarupen,-AshorThe City of Johannesburg (COJ), in attempting to buy itself out of a R3 billion fibre broadband contract, has once again highlighted the ANC’s inability to manage large scale ICT projects.

Recently COJ attempted to cancel its contract with CitiConnect BWired after numerous delays and alleged breaches of contract.

Mayor Parks Tau wanted to terminate the contract in favour of setting up another Municipal Owned Entity, along the lines of the Johannesburg Roads Agency or Pikitup, to manage and maintain the broadband network and its operations.

This would entail the City buying the network infrastructure for R1.2 billion and cancelling the existing contract worth R3.4 billion over 12 years.

However, the City does not have the skills, expertise or employees to operate such a network and the longer term costs of operating and maintaining this network would far exceed the cost of utilising a credible service provider.

This fiasco is part of a long line of ICT contracts gone awry where the ANC governs in Gauteng.

Last year, the Auditor General found that the tender process in contracts worth R500 million for the procurement of tablets and provision of 3G connectivity to have been corrupt, with points being awarded outside of set specifications.

The investigation report on this is still outstanding.

Prior to that, the Provincial Government spent well in excess of R2.2 billion for a project called Gauteng Online – which was meant to provide computing facilities and connectivity to schools across the province.

This project was characterised by constant disconnections and rampant theft.

In 2011, two officials from the Ekurhuleni metro municipality were arrested for ICT tender fraud in excess of R32 million.

The City of Johannesburg’s investment into broadband, as well as the City of Tshwane, is being rolled out alongside a R1.2 billion investment from the Gauteng Provincial Government.

Considering the dense urban nature of the province, coordination – and to minimise costs, the province and metros should agree to share bandwidth.

No such agreements are in place and the projects appear to be duplicating one another’s work.

The DA will be launching PAIA applications to access information pertaining to ICT tenders as it appears that every time an ICT tender is awarded under the ANC in Gauteng, there is corruption and/or mismanagement involved.

Media enquiries:
Ashor Sarupen
DA Gauteng Finance Committee Member
060 558 8303