The Cape Chamber of Commerce has lashed out at the department of communications (DOC), saying business is becoming “increasingly frustrated” by its “lack of governance and delivery”.
It says allegations of misconduct within the DOC are compounding concerns in business about a lack of direction and leadership in the department.
Roderick Lim Banda, chairman of the information and communications technology (ICT) portfolio committee at the Cape Chamber of Commerce, says the chamber’s ICT members have voiced concerns about recent media reports surrounding the minister, Dina Pule.
“It is creating a level of uncertainty and impacts the confidence of business in the local ICT sector,” Lim Banda says.
The Cape Chamber of Commerce represents 3 000 businesses, including more than 150 that operate in the technology space.
“Over the past year, there have been repeated calls for [Pule’s] resignation amid allegations of nepotism and corruption, the decline of institutions such as Telkom and the SABC, the lack of progress in meeting targets, and lack of governance in ICT tenders,” the chamber says in a statement.
“To be fair, the minister has inherited the legacy of a problematic image when it comes to government’s ICT leadership and delivery. It has affected the confidence of the business sector and industry for some time,” the statement reads. “Tender corruption, continued delays in spectrum allocation, a lack of any clear policy for many years, and grand promises with no concrete evidence of supporting tactics are just some of the irritations chamber members have voiced concern over.”
“Broadband has been successfully achieved in other parts of the world through a partnership between business, government and civil society,” says Lim Banda. “There is no reason why South Africa cannot achieve this success, but we are astonished that the president [Jacob Zuma] can speak confidently about meeting the target of 100% broadband penetration by 2020 in his state-of-the-nation address when his minister has yet to deliver on her current targets and is failing to gain the confidence and trust of the business community.
“Let’s be clear: government is there to create an enabling environment in which the private sector can deliver. It is time that the lack of delivery from the department of communications is dealt with by the president as a matter of urgency.”
Paul Esselaar, vice-chairman of the chamber’s ICT committee, says most innovation and development that has happened has been in spite of the work of the national government, rather than being supported by it.
“When one considers that an increase in broadband penetration is clearly linked to an increase in the GDP of a country, it is amazing that more attention is not placed on increasing broadband penetration now and more pressure is not placed on the minister to deliver come hell or high water,” Esselaar says. “There can be little doubt that the minister has failed to reduce corruption and facilitate ICT development and we believe that South Africa deserves better.”
Pule’s spokesman, Siya Qoza, could not immediately be reached for comment. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media