Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications will interrogate senior management at state-owned signal distributor Sentech on two weeks’ time. The committee wants Sentech to answer questions about business decisions it has made.
According to Business Day newspaper, the committee, which is chaired by ANC MP Ismail Vadi (pictured), wants answers on a range of issues, including its involvement in the planned Africa Coast to Europe (Ace) cable system that is due to be constructed along Africa’s west coast. The company is set to appear before the committee on 24 February.
Parliament’s decision to ask Sentech to appear before it follows communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda’s decision last week to release the highlights of a task team’s report into problems at the company. The task team found that Sentech was in “terminal decline” and in “urgent need of a turnaround strategy”.
According to Nyanda, Sentech’s “deterioration into its current loss-making situation began with the awarding of telecommunications licences and the organisation’s attempt to launch its telecoms services without adequate funding, robust business plans and well thought-out strategies”.
Business Day quotes Vadi as saying that Sentech has been “involved in too many projects that have not yielded results, and this with public funds”. A failed project MyWireless, Sentech’s now-abandoned scheme to offer wireless broadband services to consumers, “cannot be allowed to happen again”.
Vadi told TechCentral in an interview in January that the portfolio committee was “far from happy” with Sentech’s performance.
“We have not been as tough on Sentech as we’d have liked,” he said at the time. “The company has to define its core functions. It is now trying to get involved in undersea cabling, which is not its core function. Its core function is in broadcasting signal distribution.” — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral