NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TUESDAY, 18 MAY MINI PLENARIES (VIRTUAL) 16:30 – 18:15 Vote 30: Communications and Digital Technologies

Hon. Z Majozi 

 

Honourable Speaker/Chairperson

The IFP strongly believes in the potential of technology to drive South Africa’s economic growth. This vision is equally shared by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Development, whose mission is to promote socio-economic growth and investment. We would like to acknowledge the dynamic growth that has been recorded over the years in the ICT sector, and we are also aware of the improvements recorded in access to broadband and the internet.

However, the IFP notes with concern that this growth has rather been unsatisfactory.

The cost of data remains too high for most South Africans. The advances made in the availability of internet access in the country have also been disappointing. The Statistics South Africa General Household Survey of 2018 shows that only 64% of households in South Africa had access to the internet, where at least one member had access. Whilst most of these households with access are concentrated in Gauteng and the Western Cape Provinces, dominantly rural provinces are left worse off. Less than 50% of households in Limpopo have internet access, highlighting the rural-urban digital divide that still exists in the country. We are also quite saddened that our country, classified as middle-income, has failed to achieve impressive digital inclusion of its broader population. We strongly recommend that this digital divide be addressed.

It is therefore apparent that despite having a clear mandate, the Ministry, through various pieces of legislation over the years, has not delivered on most of its promises. This is a betrayal of their own mission and vision statements. The Ministry’s failure to reduce the costs of data has left us skeptical about their future objectives to provide internet access to 80% of the country’s population by 2024. We also note with concern the promises made on making a complete changeover from analogue to digital transmitters by the end of 2021.

The IFP further notes the recent proposals to merge the Ministry with SOE entities. It is worrying that some of these SOEs have been underperforming and are involved in corruption-related activity. The IFP is of the view that these proposed mergers are not a solution to the problem, rather they indicate denial to deal with corruption and underperformance. We recommend the privatisation of SOEs related to this Ministry.

We are in support of the budget cuts made by the Treasury to the Ministry, as the services cut from the Budget are non-essential to the operational capacity of the Ministry.

The IFP supports the Budget Vote.