Muthambi 'ignoring' DA on TV box report - TechCentral

Muthambi ‘ignoring’ DA on TV box report

Faith Muthambi

Communications minister Faith Muthambi has ignored a Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia) request for access to a national treasury report into irregularities in the procurement of government-subsidised digital television set-top boxes, Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn said on Thursday.

Shinn said in a statement that Muthambi has ignored her application, despite earlier promising to make the report available. She said that at a joint meeting of parliament’s telecommunications & postal services and communications committees, the minister said she would make the report available.

According to Shinn, Muthambi received the report in March 2016.

“She has reneged on this undertaking to the committees. On 12 October, I lodged a Paia application with the department of communications [but]there has been no response, despite a follow up e-mail in November requesting one,” Shinn said in the statement.

According to information disclosed online by the department of communications, the report was done by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of national treasury.

“Muthambi requested the probe after I raised concerns about the tender allocations to three South African electronics ‘manufacturers’,” Shinn said.

“What Muthambi has made public about the probe — but chose not to share with the committees on 16 October despite having the information to hand — is that the process by which the producers of the set-top boxes were selected is riddled with irregularities and exorbitant, escalating costs. These include serious breaches of supply chain management policies, national treasury regulations and the Public Finance Management Act; contracts going to the highest bidder; alarming cost escalations; tender specifications being adapted after publication; and prices for set-top box production being adjusted upwards.”

Marian Shinn

Shinn, citing figures from the Universal Service & Access Agency of South Africa (Usaasa), said the cost of each subsidised set-top box with installation has escalated to R1 670. Usaasa is the government entity responsible for managing the set-top box process.

“The retail cost of a similar installation is about R599,” she said. That means that the subsidised set-top box installation is almost three times the retail cost and is a shocking cost escalation.

“Muthambi has given no indication that she is taking action on the findings of the national treasury report and whether any officials are being held accountable, whether any of the orders lodged with the three companies are being reviewed or cancelled, or whether any action is being taken against any of the contracted service providers to the tender process are being brought to book.”

TechCentral has asked Muthambi’s spokesman, Mish Molakeng, for comment.  — © 2017 NewsCentral Media

9 Comments

  1. R1670 for something that can be purchased from China for around $10. Plus antenna, maybe another R100, plus shipping and delivery R200, plus installation R200. Total: R640.

    Hmmmm.

  2. OMG, year 9, episode 1437 of our beloved Digital Drama, the never ending soapie, SA’s one and only Digital Migration !!!!!

    Scrap it altogether !
    What is the future of traditional unidirectional TV anyway ? We have already Starsat and Dstv satellite pay TV plus OVHD FTA sat TV ? OVHD decoders are only R 399.
    The future is internet video streaming and fibre.

    Marian Shin and any other opposition party never opposed the gov control of STB production, and distribution and import. And the manufacturing, distribution and installation of 5 to 6m free STBs for the poor. Most of these decoders will end on the scrapheap, not or hardly used.

  3. If there is one thing I pray for is that the people of this country realise that only full public and government institution transparency can ensure the elimination of corruption.

    I will continue to hope for that day and our people will be so much better off!

  4. Let’s be clear: this is a minister who illegally changed SABC mandates. She consistently ignored advice around Digital Migration. She clearly serves the President’s self-interests, not the nation’s.

    She has been about as useful to communications as Manto Tshabalala-Msimang had been to AIDS.

    She must be fired.