The Universal Service & Access Agency of South Africa (Usaasa) has slammed remarks by the department of communications’ head of digital migration, Solly Mokoetle, that the agency’s tender process for television set-top boxes was flawed and could be taken away from it.
The communications department wants the tender process for the supply of more than 5m digital television set-top boxes for poorer households — a project kick-started by Usaasa — halted and brought under the watch of the department, led by minister Faith Muthambi, Mokoetle said.
He told TechCentral that industry players had expressed concern to the communications department over the role of Usaasa as funder and procurement officer in the process and warned that the agency’s tender would be investigated for “any violation of the procurement process”.
But Usaasa has hit back, describing Mokoetle — a former CEO of the SABC — as a “junior official with no authority to make such declarations, public or otherwise”.
Usaasa says it is aware of service providers who have not bid as they were under the impression that the bid process would be restarted following publication of amendments to government’s broadcasting digital migration policy.
The agency blames these industry players for being behind moves to restart the process. It accuses Mokoetle of giving substance to rumours that the bid process would be restarted.
Usaasa says Mokoetle should familiarise himself with government procurement processes and “refrain from making loose statements”.
It says, too, that the recent amendments to the broadcasting digital migration policy do not affect its ongoing tender process.
In the statement, it says it was mandated by cabinet in 2012 with conducting the procurement process and a shift in the project mandate to the department of communications does not necessitate a shift in funds. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media
The department of communications provided the following statement to TechCentral following publication of this article:
Following the proclamation issued on 4 December 2014, which transfers certain functions in terms of the Electronic Communications Act and Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Act (Icasa) Act, a formal handover process between the departments of communications and telecommunications & postal services was concluded on 30 January 2015.
One of the programmes handed over to department of communications is broadcasting digital migration. This programme requires public entities such as Sentech, the Post Office, Usaasa, Icasa and the South African Bureau of Standards to collaborate in the implementation of various critical aspects of the programme. The department of communications as the lead department in the implementation of the broadcasting digital migration programme has clearly defined the roles of each entity in the programme implementation plan.
While the department acknowledges that there have been processes undertaken by various key roleplayers prior to the finalisation of the recently amended policy, it is important to state that certain aspects of these processes require detailed review in order to align them with the final gazetted policy of 18 March 2015. The comments made by [Mokoetle] were made within this understanding and context.
Once again, the department calls upon all roleplayers to do their part in ensuring swift implementation of the broadcasting digital migration programme.
- See also: Usaasa may lose set-top box project