The Democratic Alliance has called on communications minister Faith Muthambi to ensure there is transparency in the awarding of tenders to manufacture set-top boxes for South Africa’s digital terrestrial television migration project.
In a statement on Sunday, DA MP Marian Shinn said that a “veil of secrecy” had been placed over the order of 1,5m set-top boxes to three suppliers in the first phase of government’s plan to produce 5m subsidised free boxes for poorer households.
Shinn said her call last week to Muthambi to clarify the status of the orders had gone unheeded.
“My request to Zami Nkosi, CEO of the Universal Service & Access Agency of South Africa (Usaasa), which is managing the set-top box project, to confirm three names industry sources have provided me has gone unanswered,” Shinn said further.
Nkosi reportedly said last week that 1,5m boxes had been ordered and that production began at the end of August but he would not name who was producing them, Shinn said.
“One of the assumed winning bidders, BUA Africa, declined to confirm receipt of an order from Usaasa. A director of the company, Thulani Ngesi, replied: ‘Unfortunately I can’t comment or confirm any speculation as you understand I have an effective NDA (nondisclosure agreement) signed… I can’t be in breach of the terms and reference of such agreement. I suggest you request such information directly from Usaasa.’ When I asked for clarity on who imposed the NDA on him he became defensive, without providing clarification.
“I have submitted parliamentary questions to the minister asking her to provide details of any orders placed for set-top boxes and antennae and to clarify whether there is an NDA with the winning suppliers and, if one exists, the reasons for this.
“It is outrageous that there is not full disclosure on the awarding of these orders and the process by which the three suppliers were chosen from among 26 companies who were appointed to a panel of suppliers who were in line to share the R4,3bn so far earmarked for the project.
“This is taxpayers’ money, so there must be full transparency on how it is being spent and who is securing the orders for each component of the free set-top box project.” — © 2015 NewsCentral Media