Vote 4: Government Communications and Information System NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FRIDAY, 21 MAY MINI PLENARIES (VIRTUAL) 10:00 – 12:15

Hon. Z Majozi

 

Honourable Chairperson,

The IFP applauds the efforts of the Department of Government Communication and Information Systems in promoting active citizen participation and uniting all South Africans around one common goal. In keeping the country informed about issues affecting the country, the Ministry, in the 2019/2020 financial year, distributed 19.35 million copies of the Vuk’uzenzele newspaper, a free newspaper published every fortnight. The distribution of this newspaper through knock-and-drops and access points, including Post Offices and Thusong Service Centres, has enabled the newspaper to be accessed in some hard-to-reach, remote areas.

However, as much as we applaud these efforts, we find the service delivery model of the Thusong Service Centres to be lacking. Established with the aim of operationalising the government’s development-communication approach, as well as addressing information and service gaps to historically marginalised areas, these centres have had their own share of problems. We note, with concern, the millions spent to construct each one of these centres and how some of them are now dysfunctional.

The launch of a campaign to fight corruption by the Department, the Anti-Corruption #ThumaMina pledge campaign, launched on 7 August 2018, in collaboration with Business Unity South Africa, is also worth mentioning. This marked an important turning point in the history of the country in the fight against corruption and seemed to show commitment by the Department to end this problem. Most importantly, this displayed an end to the denialism by government on the existence of corruption. Nonetheless, the IFP is of the view that such a populist approach to addressing this challenge might be piecemeal and largely cosmetic.

We were therefore not surprised when #ThumaMina was seemingly set aside, as government officials and ‘tenderprenuers’ under various PPE procurement deals displayed the level of rot that still exists in the country.  We watched in shock as billions of Rands were looted through various PPE scandals in different government departments. More than 600 companies in the country were investigated by the Special Investigations Unit over irregular Covid-19 PPE contracts, valued at more than R7 billion. The IFP wishes to express its deepest disappointment regarding this matter.

Corruption in this country goes deeper than we think.

We support the Ministry’s use of technology in delivering messages from the government to the citizens of South Africa. However, our concern is that there are no plans in place from the Department to breach the digital divide that exists in the country. Internet access remains out of reach for more than 50% of our rural population and is not always comprehensive in urban areas. The Department, in its mandate to use technology to convey government messages, needs to work with other relevant government Ministries to address this digital divide.

The IFP supports the Budget Vote.

I thank you.