Democratic Alliance shadow minister of telecommunications & postal services Marian Shinn has accused the minister, Siyabonga Cwele, of creating another useless government talk shop.
Cwele will launch National ICT Forum on Friday at Emperors Palace on Johannesburg’s East Rand.
Shinn says that the launch is simply an attempt by the minister to create the impression that he is doing something before the week of his budget vote speech in parliament.
“I maintain that this forum is being held the week before his budget speech in a hasty effort to create the impression that minister Cwele is being active in his portfolio and is a waste of time and money,” she says.
The minister did not mention the forum in his presentation of the department’s annual strategic plan on 14 April.
Shinn questions the need for the necessity for another consultative body to advise government on information and communications technology.
The National Broadband Advisory Council was established last year. It consists of representatives from the private sector, government, trade unions and ICT analysts. Cwele has yet to meet the council, although he has met council chair and CSIR president Sibusiso Sibisi and its deputy, Alison Gillwald, director of Research ICT Africa.
The forum will have four main areas of discussion: e-government, ICT skills development and manufacturing, small business support and Internet governance. It has its genesis in the ANC’s Mangaung resolutions and is over two years in the making.
This is the first time government will convene an all-encompassing gathering that will include the telecoms, broadcasting and IT sectors.
Shinn says the Green Paper on ICT policy was released in January 2014. A year later there is still no White Paper. “Minister Cwele would do well to spend his time, effort and taxpayers’ money on actually providing electronic communications for South Africans as per his mandate and not host forums that have unclear objectives.”
Cwele’s spokesman could not be reached for comment. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media