Telecommunications & postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele said on Friday that government’s new National ICT Forum is “not a talk shop”, deflecting criticism earlier this week by the Democratic Alliance that the event, launched on Johannesburg’s East Rand, was a waste of time.
On Wednesday, DA MP Marian Shinn accusing Cwele of creating another useless government talk shop. She described the launch of the forum as an attempt by the minister to create the impression 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,” Shinn said.
But Cwele on Friday said the government had work to do and targets to achieve and said his operational plan for the sector will entail a meaningful role for other stakeholders and their recommendations will be considered by government.
He said the objective of government is to produce an inclusive information society.
“We need long-term policy certainty and the National ICT Forum allows us to engage on critical ICT issues and matters of crucial interest that will take us to be active participants in the global information society.”
The forum consists of four chambers. The social chamber will be led by South African Communications Forum executive director Loren Braithwaite Kabosha, with Nonkqubela Jordaan representing government.
Focus areas of this chamber include e-health, e-agriculture and e-government and will drive the national e-strategy.
A government and security chamber will be led by Tony Parry of the Institute of IT Professionals South Africa, with Tinyiko Ngobeni representing government. It will focus on cybersecurity, e-commerce, cloud computing and Internet governance, among other things.
Pravina Sukhraj-Ely of the South African National Council for the Blind will lead the ICT and disability chamber and be assisted by Petronella Linders from government. Cwele said government is committed to employing 2% of people with disabilities. This target has not been reached since it made this promise in 2005. Last year, the 20-year review of government noted that the employment of people with disabilities in the public service improved from 0,16% in 2005 to 0,32 % in 2010/2011 and 0,36% in 2011/2012.
An economic chamber is to be led by Chose Choeu, former president of the Information Technology Association, with telecoms department deputy director-general Themba Phiri representing government. It aims to improve employment in the ICT sector.
The forum will meet at least twice a year, with the various sectoral forums meeting three times a year. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media