The planned meeting was cancelled because of the late withdrawal of the Department. The Minister had written that it was the protocol of Cabinet not to anticipate or engage publicly on the content of the State Of The Nation Address, and instructed the Department and its entities not to attend the meeting.
The Committee was highly dissatisfied with the Department's absence, but had no option but to cancel the meeting. The Chairperson said she would take the matter up with the presiding officers of Parliament. It was not the first time the Department had failed to report to the committee on its broadband rollout plan, and its repeated cancellations seriously undermined the portfolio committee and prevented it from fulfilling its constitutional obligations.
The Chairperson said that she had received a letter from the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Mr Siyabonga Cwele, the previous day (Monday) requesting that the meeting be postponed. Mr Cwele had written that it was the protocol of Cabinet not to anticipate or engage publicly on the content of the State Of The Nation Address. She had replied that the meeting could not be postponed, firstly because the matter had been pending for a long time, and secondly because of the short notice. She had emphasised the importance of the government's broadband policy and pointed out that the Committee had been trying to get details from the Department on the broadband rollout since November 2014. Three meetings had been scheduled in 2015, none of which had been honoured by the Department. The present meeting had been on the committee's programme since before the 2015-16 recess, and no objection had been received from the Department at the time. She had since heard that the Minister had instructed the Department and its entities not to attend the meeting, and she therefore had no choice but to cancel it. She was taking the matter up with the presiding officers of Parliament, as it seriously undermined the Portfolio Committee and prevented it from fulfilling its constitutional obligations.
Ms M Shinn (DA) said that the Minister and the Department had showed their contempt for the millions of South Africans who needed to become part of the internet community. The country needed widespread broadband access to progress economically, and citizens needed it to interact with government. It was time for government to engage the private sector to assist.
Mr E Siwela (ANC) agreed that the meeting could not go ahead in the absence of the Department.
Ms D Tsotetsi (ANC) reluctantly agreed. She was disappointed with the Department. The committee would need to explain to the public why it had been unable to represent their interests.
The meeting was adjourned.
No related documents
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.