The Democratic Alliance has called on communications minister Faith Muthambi to “come clean” on R1,2bn worth of digital television set-top box contracts placed by government as part of its plan to provide free boxes to qualifying households.
“The DA is concerned about Muthambi’s lack of clarity on the details of the R1,2bn order of the first 1,5m set-top boxes earmarked for poor households,” said DA MP Marian Shinn.
Government has said it will provide free set-top boxes to as many as 5m poorer South African households.
“[Muthambi’s] decision to withhold information concerning the price government is paying per set-top box exacerbates suspicions of corruption around the entire manufacturing and assembly process,” Shinn said in a statement on Thursday.
“I call on her to openly — and without delay — give details on how much public money is being spent on these decoders and how the orders have been shared.”
Shinn said questions she sent to Muthambi have not been fully answered, if at all.
“It is untenable that the minister is so secretive about contracting to spend an assumed R1,2bn among only three of the 26 approved set-top box providers. This is about half of the national treasury approved funding for the set-top boxes.”
According to Shinn, Muthambi has confirmed the names of the three manufacturers to receive the first order are BUA Africa, CS Electronics and Leratadima.
“There has been no official media release on this since the orders were placed in August, which is surprising as this programme is the bedrock of the set-top box manufacturing sector development strategy of 2012 to enable emerging electronics firms to gain entry to the sector.” — © 2015 NewsCentral Media