DCDT & entities' 2021/22 Quarter 1 & 2 performance; with Ministry

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Communications and Digital Technologies

08 March 2022
Chairperson: Mr B Maneli (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Tabled Committee Report

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies presented a performance report for it and its entities: SAPO, SABC, FPB, ICASA, NEMISA, BBI, MDDA, SITA, GCIS, USAASA. Each entity overview spoke to performance for each quarter for each programme; financial information; audit outcomes; and reasons for under-achievement.

Committee members were particularly concerned about the SABC, the ICASA spectrum auction on 31 March, plans to resuscitate the South African Post Office, and stakeholder management. The Department replied that it was working tirelessly to secure funding to resuscitate SAPO and there may be light at the end of the tunnel. SAPO owed Post Bank R2.1 billion and had cash flow constraints. The Committee would shortly receive a briefing on the new SAPO Strategy, ‘Post Office of Tomorrow’. If National Treasury granted SAPO the required funding, it could turn it around. SABC presented a rather promising picture but requested that the Committee assist it with changes to the regulations that hindered its plan to enhance revenue while servicing its public mandate.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed the Minister and Deputy Minister.

Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) performance
Ms Gcobisa Soci, GCIS CFO, noted for Quarter 1, GCIS achieved 33 of its 36 targets and 33 of its 34 targets in Quarter 2. The overview also shed light on the role of the GCIS during the 2021 July unrest; performance highlights; communication campaigns for Covid-19 and gender-based violence; research insights; governance matters; vacancies; and expenditure. Expenditure on personal protective equipment (PPE) for both quarters was R381 506.

Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) performance
Ms Zukiswa Potye, MDDA Chief Executive Officer, said MDDA has 22 output indicators and in Quarter 1, 13 out of 15 targets were achieved. The targets were the same for Quarter 2 and it managed to achieve 14 of these targets. She gave an overview of the organisational environment; a summary of achievements; internal environment highlights; unachieved targets and reasons for these; performance information on each programme and its financial information.

Mr T Gumbu (ANC) commended GCIS on the work it has done, particularly in filling vacant positions and their performance.

Ms T Bodlani (ANC) asked GCIS about the Public Sector Manager magazine. In the presentation, it said that this would be outsourced but the decision was revised as there was no suitable service provider. She asked for detailed information on this. In reporting the number of 103 352 leaflets distributed, instead, is there no better way to measure impact?

Listening to the MDDA presentation and seeing the printing fraternity threaten to march on MDDA’s offices speaks directly to stakeholder management. One is briefed on MDDA in the Committee but outside the Committee, it seems no one really knows about MDDA. How is the Agency managing its stakeholders? She asked about the Chief Financial Officer situation and how this affected staff morale.

Ms Z Majozi (IFP) was pleased with the work of GCIS. She emphasized vaccination communication to the public. It would assist the country on vaccinations if it expanded advertisements about vaccination. GCIS must not stop pursuing this until the majority of South Africans have been vaccinated or there is herd immunity. She encouraged GCIS not to stop communicating with the public via SMS as this was a good personal touch, but it must also include the nearest vaccination sites for people to go to.

Ms Majozi acknowledged the work of the MDDA and hoped that the focus area would not be based only on Soweto but other parts of the country. We hope that other radio stations would benefit from the MDDA. What mechanisms are used to reach out to persons with disabilities to ensure they were not left behind? Overall, the Committee recognises the progress of the MDDA.

GCIS response
Ms Soci replied that GCIS will ramp up its communication for the vaccination of the nation. As for the Public Sector Manager (PSM) magazine, we initially had plans to do it in print as well as electronically. The tender was to address the print magazine. However, when we went analysed who really reads the magazine and if it is financially viable after we did not find a supplier. We found out that most readers were doing so electronically. Treasury also requested GCIS after it approved private sector advertisements in the Vuk’uzenzele Newspaper, to conduct research to ascertain the market for both Vuk’uzenzele and the Public Sector Manager magazine. We took a decision as per the Government Segmentation Model (GSM). The digital divide in the country forces the entity to balance this for both print and online. For the PSM, it was agreed to be done online only but the Vuk’uzenzele newspaper will be both online and in print.

GCIS counts the inventory of the leaflets issued to the provinces. Throughout its provincial campaigns and engagements, those leaflets are issued. GCIS wants to ensure that it ascertains how much stock was disbursed and was still available on hand to know the stock levels when replenishing.

MDDA response
Mr Hlengani Mathebula, MDDA Board Chairperson, clarified that the CEO came to the Agency in an acting capacity but has since been employed on a five-year fixed contract.

Ms Potye replied its strategic objective is to create awareness on media development and diversity. When we issue a call for applications for grant funding, we have a media plan and outreach programmes. At times, we are accompanied by the Ministry and sometimes the team is on its own. The team goes out to all the provinces to make the announcement and assist potential beneficiaries or applicants on how to apply. On the website, we have application forms in all the official languages. The application form and the process has been simplified. In each province, we do two regions. For example, in Mthatha, there is a group of women that have invited us for an explanation on how they can start a women-led television or women-focused radio station. When we go there, we ensure to bring critical stakeholders such as SARS, ICASA and Sentech. There are many interactions we have before a station has been approved and the broadcast equipment installed and the unveiling of that station. Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) also kicks in with MDDA visits to check for compliance and to interact with the communities about the station as community broadcasters and media are for the communities by the communities.

MDDA has many partnerships with stakeholders that play a critical role in the space such as NEMISA and Facebook South Africa.

As for staff morale, a dipstick survey has been completed and the findings are being analysed by Human Resources. We are concerned about the impact on the organisation and the survey will assist us in picking up on staff morale.

Mr Mathebula replied that Jozi FM in Soweto was just an example for illustration, and it is not even a MDDA beneficiary. The CEO-led team has gone around the country to reach out to all communities to ensure that we cater for all communities within the mandate of the Agency.

Ms Potye emphasized that Jozi FM was just a case study, which MDDA was curious about how it was sustaining itself without government support. As for inclusivity of people with disabilities, MDDA started on this road in 2018 where it met with the deaf community. There are more than 3 million deaf people in the country and the Agency has been working towards forging a relationship with them. We are lucky that we have a board member who represents the disability sector. We met with her last week where she educated the executive how to do its work in this space effectively. The plan is to get into that space. It is not easy, but we welcome all guidance. We want to stop preaching and do the work and ensure there is inclusion in our work and diversity. She asked the Agency to be given some time on this and it would come back to the Committee with an update.

The Chairperson said that what comes out clearly is that the entities were doing everything possible to achieve the desired results, but it must be balanced with delivery in all aspects. We have concerns about the under-achievement of some of the targets. Budget appropriations must be justified.

There was no procurement in a space of two quarters which is six months. It knew when setting the target that there were dependencies such as procurement needed to be done. He urged GCIS to look into strengthening its planning. People were deprived of information that they should have received if the planned targets were met.

The Chairperson appreciated the work of the MDDA, and it looks like there is relative stability. There was a time when the MDDA was working very well, with clean audits but there was also a time when things were not good. Irregular employment contracts would undermine progress. He encouraged the board and management to ensure that this is not repeated. This does not give the entity a good name when it comes out in public. The board is established to ensure that good governance is upheld consistently. The CFO matter must be resolved urgently and it should revert to the Committee. That will give the Committee confidence that such matters are being addressed.

On the MDDA board vacancies and lack of quorum, our interview sub-committee plans to meet on 10 March to deliberate as the interviews are completed. On 15 March it will report back to this Committee for adoption of its recommendations. Hopefully, the Committee Report on the MDDA board recommendations will receive speedy attention in the National Assembly. He assured the Board that there was commitment to fill those board vacancies.

Mr Philly Mapulane, Deputy Minister, noted there are 10 Department entities but a total of 13 presentations. He was experiencing load-shedding challenges and his battery was low so he might be cut off.

The Chairperson said that the Minister had just joined the meeting. The Committee feels that it is important to have the political leaders present when the Committee receives the DCDT entity reports as the Department also has entity oversight. All these reports ought to be received in advance for the Ministry to have an understanding of what is happening in the entities.

Broadband Infraco (BBI) performance: Minister’s overview
Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni spoke about BBI targets, governance, revenue, expenditure and key performance indicators for both quarters. For Q1, 14 of 19 targets were achieved. Of the five targets not achieved, three pertained to financial sustainability, one to resilient network, and one socio-economic transformation target. Areas of significant achievement were a gearing ratio of 12% achieved against a target of 95%; R68 million positive cash balance against a target of R15 million; Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMME) invoices paid within 14 days against a target of 30 days; Debtors’ days were 42 days against a target of 60 days. Two Resilient Network targets and five economic transformation targets were also met, amongst others.

For Q2, 13 of 19 targets were achieved. Of the six targets unachieved, three pertained to financial sustainability, one to resilient network, one socio-economic transformation, and one organisational enablement target. R10 million in new sales was contracted against a target of R100 million which is 10% of the quarterly target. Demand for capacity continues in the market and the capacity constraints continually inhibit leveraging these opportunities. Added to this are the now compounding supply chain disruptions, which are extending delivery times and further stifling opportunities from customers. The impact of these has been an extension in lead time for procurement of equipment (six to 12 weeks lead time), which will have a ripple effect on revenue conversion. Plans are afoot to review the pricing strategy, and the sales team will soon commission BMIT to conduct a pricing study. The expected upgrades from a High Data SoC were not realised for yet another quarter, though BBI is pursuing them.

Mr Omega Shelembe, Deputy Director-General: SOE Oversight, continued presenting the overview of the DCDT entities. He commenced with the SABC implementation of the turnaround plan.

SABC performance
Of the 120 key actions in the SABC Turnaround Plan, 87% (104) have been completed or are in place 23 months into the 36-month implementation period. Of the 120 key actions, the Corporation will no longer be pursuing eight key actions. When you factor out these, the percentage completed or in place is 93%.

The audit was completed a month later than normal and this contributed to the overdue findings not being finalized by 30 September 2021. The total number of findings issued by internal audit is 333 for 2020 and 2021 of which 52 relate to 2021.

Films and Publication Board (FPB) performance
For Quarter 1, revenue of R26.7 million (23%) was collected against the R116.7 million annual budget. Year-to-date revenue collection for the first quarter was under collected by R2.6 million (9%) as a result mainly of online distribution fees and classification fees. Total expenditure excluding commitments is R21.2 million (18%) and including commitments is R22.3 million (18%). The amount was spent on enabler and flagship projects.

For Quarter 2, revenue of R55.9 million (48%) was collected against the R116.7 million annual budget. The year-to-date revenue collection for the second quarter was under-collected by R2.5 million mainly as a result of online distribution fees and classification fees being under budget. Total expenditure excluding commitments is R47.0m (40%) and including commitments is R50.1 million (43%). The amount was spent on enabler and flagship projects.

Both reports outlined 'going concern' and sustainability matters; irregular expenditure; fruitless and wasteful expenditure; 9% of BBBEE spend and recommendations.

Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) performance
The overview covered financial performance; audit outcomes and findings; litigation status report; reasons for target non-achievements and mitigation measures. ICASA achieved 64% of its Quarter 1 targets. Active litigation in Quarter 1 included 11 review applications (on administrative/regulatory decisions); one contractual dispute matter; three labour law matters and one matter settled out of court.

National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA) performance
The overview covered how NEMISA performed in each programme; institutional development; smart oversight and its financial information. NEMISA achieved 15 of the 18 targets (83%) set for Quarter 1. This also applied to the Quarter 2 as well. It posted a surplus of R629 277.62 for Q1 and a surplus of R995 050.99 for Q2.

South African Post Office (SAPO) performance
Quarter 1 of 2021/22 was very challenging with the onset of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The economic recovery is sluggish with negative impacts on SAPO revenue and business recovery. This contributed to the escalated financial challenges faced by SAPO since monthly expenditure continues to outpace revenue. Total Covid-19 confirmed cases amongst SAPO staff is at 1 674 with recovery rate of 94.2% and 48 fatalities. Crime incidents at the end of Q1 peaked at 824 compared to 411 in the prior year – a massive increase of 100%. The main contributor is violent crime (armed robbery and business burglary) with 240 incidents in total.

With a reduction of 114 employees between April and June 2021, the headcount is 15 658 employees at 30 June 2021. The average carry-over per month decreased from 2.97 million items at the end of May to 2.12 million items at the end of June 2021. The Johannesburg International Mail Centre (JIMC) reduced the backlog of 2.1 million items in April to zero. Service delivery standard improved to 66% during Q1.

SAPO outlined the numbers of SASSA grant payments it paid to beneficiaries in June 2021 as well as for the Covid-19 SRD R350 grants. It noted the number of qualifying needy households that registered for set-top boxes of which 628 572 were issued up to 30 June 2021.

Quarter 2 remained extremely challenging with economic recovery remaining sluggish, negatively impacting SAPO revenue and business recovery. Expenditure continued to outstrip revenue by R726 million (47%). R813 million revenue received in Q2 which was R409 million (33%) below budget, contributing to cash deficits. Expenditure target of R1 732 million for Q2 achieved at R1 539 million which was R193 million less (11%). Staff costs remain the key cost driver at R934 million (61%) in Q2. The Q2 net loss position of R591 million against projected net loss of R366 million, gave a negative variance of R226 million (62%). Of the 15 KPIs, only three (20%) were achieved. There was a deterioration of 27% on Q 1 performance.

Q2 crime-related incidents increased YOY by 569 incidents (31%) to 1 818 incidents. Q2 crime-related losses increased YOY by R12.4 million (20%) to R62 million. A total of 15 443 employees (SAPO and Docex) were reported at the end of Q2, which was a reduction of 215 employees from Q1.

SASSA beneficiaries decreased by 60 728 beneficiaries in September 2021 to 7 527 678. SASSA withdrawal transaction volumes for September 2021 were approximately 16.9 million transactions, only 2.2% at SAPO branches and 2.3% at cash pay points. A total of 155 789 beneficiaries paid through 1 595 cash pay points at end of September 2021. Operations at cash pay points were restored following the July 2021 social unrest. 716 831 beneficiaries were paid SRD grants in September, an increase from 371 518 beneficiaries in August 2021. Levels are substantially lower than the 2 million beneficiaries per month paid earlier during the financial year.

Sentech performance
There was a 60% achievement of predetermined objectives. Sentech achieved a Weighted Average Network availability of 99.88% against an SLA target of 99.80% for network performance. Sentech reported positive financial performance for the second quarter ending 30 September 2021, with above-target revenues and profit margins. Revenue performance at the end of Q2 had a positive variance of R24 million at 7% above budget. The broadband portfolio continues to provide the potential for additional revenue streams and the Managed Infrastructure Services portfolio will attract potential customers when the Nasrec Data centre is complete. Overall network performance was above service level agreement. However, connectivity service underperformed due to power-related challenges. The digital migration project remains at high risk. USAASA has agreed to revise the installation prices as per request from suppliers, this should assist with stakeholder management for the migration project team.

State Information Technology Agency (SITA) performance
The SITA overview detailed performance for each programme; financial performance; youth development programme; external bursary information; SITA-SAPO collaboration; 2021/22 proposed changes; audit findings and major projects to address findings; and governance overview. SITA achieved 13 out of 17 targets (76.47%) for Quarter 1. For Quarter 2, it achieved 12 out of 16 targets (75%) performance result.

As for the audit results, although there was a considerable improvement in the financial health of SITA, the audit report contained three qualifications. Two qualifications dealt with impairment on fixed assets and intangible assets. The second qualification was non-compliance with the procurement process. Although management has attempted to address audit findings with impact on audit qualification, at 30 June 2021 SITA had 22 outstanding audit findings of the 39 outstanding findings reported in April 2021. Four of these were raised by Auditor General for the 2018/19 audit. Management is addressing the findings. Details of the outstanding four findings and why they are outstand was provided.

Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) and Fund (USAF) performance
USAASA achieved 67% of targets for both quarters. Performance was given for each programme; gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) implementation plan; stakeholder strategy/plan; enterprise risk maturity level; invoices; reduction of fruitless and wasteful expenditure and other financial information.

USAF achieved only 29% of its targets for Q1 and 14% in Quarter 2. The overview outlined the implementation of the BDM rollout; broadband connectivity; invoices; reduction of fruitless and wasteful expenditure and irregular expenditure.

Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT ) performance
Ms Nonkqubela Jordan-Dyan, DCDT Director-General, covered significant achievements; areas of under-achievement for Quarter 2; financial information; performance for each programme which included ICT International Relations and Affairs, ICT Policy Development and Research, ICT Enterprise and Public Entity Oversight, ICT Infrastructure Support; ICT Information Society and Capacity Development.

A process is underway to address all the irregular expenditure on the register and consequence management will take place. Expenditure at the end of Quarter 1 was 23% as international membership fees were not paid during the first quarter due to delays in receiving invoices.

Dr M Basopu (ANC) appreciated the presentations. SABC showed some improvement but for a long time, it has been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. He asked the Department to bring the Committee into its confidence on how the SABC has improved.

The SAPO presentation highlighted a slight improvement but there is a lack of funding and struggles with revenue collection and Covid-19 related matters. What is the situation in saving SAPO? We all know that SAPO is challenged without funding. SAPO provides very important services to our people, especially in remote areas. However, one has found out from the public that in many instances SAPO branches are not operational due to non-payment of rent. As the Committee we must recommend a concerted effort to save this institution. SAPO assists our people who are on the periphery or in remote areas; thus, we cannot allow SAPO to fail because it caters directly to our people.

Mr S Malatsi (DA) said the Post Office financial information indicates a loss of R563 million and it owes the Post Bank R2.2 billion. There is a procurement moratorium currently. He asked about the funding plan to save the Post Office to fulfil its basic mandate. More and more branches were closing. There is a reported high number of thefts taking place in the branches and they are also losing staff. There are two critical factors affecting it: the funding required to revive SAPO and the human resources element. What is the plan to get the financial rescue that it needs? Will there be an application for another bailout?

For FPB, one of the critical aspects holding it back is the vacancies that were not filled at executive and senior management levels. What is the timeline for filling these critical vacancies?

Ms Bodlani (ANC) said that the elephant in the room is the auction sale of the spectrum. Without compromising the process, what information can the Department share today on the status of the auction?

SABC response
Mr Madoda Mxakwe, CEO: SABC said that we are on track in executing our mandate. We are currently at 87% of achieving our turnaround plan and we are standing at 96% year to date in achieving this plan overall. This is linked directly to the mandate of the SABC of informing, educating and entertaining South Africans. This mandate is unfunded, and we are expected to aggressively chase commercial revenue in the industry to finance that mandate. This was achieved at great odds including the pandemic, the harsh economic conditions with the shrinking revenue as well as internal and external constraints. However, we are confident that we will implement this turnaround plan within a year in advance. We have also stabilised the entity, restored commercial business principle to chase the revenue, addressed the historic high-cost base, developed a robust target operating model and implemented a new organisational structure that ensures we are agile and competitive, managed to strengthen the balance sheet, reduced the debt and ensured that we have a healthy working capital management. This could not be achieved without the required reform and change within the policy and legislation. The SABC in this current fiscal has recorded profits in April 2021, even in the third quarter, we recorded a profit of about R77 million. Year on year, in the past three years, there has been a reduction in net losses.

We need assistance on legislative and regulatory provisions, but we have engaged with the shareholder on this. For example, the requirements of the PFMA when it comes to content acquisition and accelerating revenue generation does put delays and turnaround, bureaucracies when we need to ensure that we generate sufficient revenue. The new regulations have enabled paid television to carry our channels at no cost and this is despite the clear provisions of the Electronic Communications Act. We are committed to fulfilling the public mandate, but it is important to remember that this mandate is not funded, and the revenue must be generated commercially. If we could be assisted with the regulatory and legislative reforms, it would assist the SABC to be viable in the future.

Film and Publication Board response
Ms Zama Mkosi, CEO: FPB replied to say that she agreed that the number of vacancies in the organisation has become a challenge especially to fulfil the new mandate that has been trusted on the entity with the amendment Act. We are working hard to fill those gaps, but those vacancies are at the strategic level. The current high-level vacancies included the position of the CEO, CIO, COO and most recently an executive of shared services. One of the challenges was the moratorium that was placed on the entity because of the previous strategy on the potential merger but we have been in discussion with the executive authority and working closely to address that. One of the things we have agreed needs to be done is to prepare a strategy document for the FPB of the future because the role of the FPB has significantly changed, thus we need to position ourselves as a regulator of the future. This will have significant implications on the entity. We are finalising the document internally despite the limited human resources, but the team was putting in the effort to ensure that it was done. Once it is done within the next couple of weeks, the executive authority has agreed to assist the entity in lifting some of those moratoriums, which will enable us to recruit the necessary skills at the executive level.

South African Post Office response
Mr Sipho Majombozi, SAPO Acting Deputy Board Chairperson, replied that it was in the public domain that SAPO is in ICU with diminishing supplies of oxygen. SAPO has a social mandate. As things stand, the picture is uninspiring and there is a depletion of board members. The 'Post Office of Tomorrow' Strategy will soon be presented to the Committee, and it is this strategy that seeks to turnaround SAPO.

Ms Nomkhita Mona, CEO: SAPO, said the slight improvement reported was purely for what was done in the past 11 months. We looked at the cost containment exercise to ensure that we did not spend beyond our means, but we cannot save ourselves from non-sustainability. Some of the measures that have been considered include looking for new business and revenue.

We have historical debt that runs into the billions and this debt has been with SAPO for a long time. Even with the interventions that we make, we are hamstrung by this debt. Hence, it is unfair to go to the fiscus to seek financial assistance. We are excited about the activities that are lined up in the new strategy, but these activities will need funding.

The basic mandate of SAPO also calls for it to deliver on its Universal Service Obligation for its public service mandate. This means that its services must be available to all people from different walks of life. This requires about R1 billion and we must be mindful that SAPO has been subsidising this mandate. Management has also gone out to collect all the monies that SAPO is owed.

SAPO is experiencing serious funding challenges and it has approached the Department for assistance. There was an application for additional funding but there was no allocation. Even the second time around, we did not get funding. We went out to our creditors and property owners that we rent from to inform them that SAPO has requested assistance and asked to have this discussion at the end of February 2022. February has come to an end, but nothing has come yet.

SAPO does have services that it renders to government departments. We are asking for work and an opportunity to fulfil those but we are aware that we have had challenges in our performance. We have now gone online for motor vehicle licensing and there is a lot of excitement about that programme. This will be shared with the Committee next week when SAPO presents its new strategy.

In the municipalities, it is the landlords that have decided to switch off water or electricity. Last year, we took a decision to pay off all municipal debt. What we may owe now is merely water or electricity in the current month. For all small businesses that have been waiting for payment from SAPO for a long time, we have decided to settle those as well, starting with the older debts.

Human resources is also another challenge for SAPO which at a critical level but we cannot afford to pay for these vacancies and this affects its performance. We will now wait for the new strategy to be approved to align the required skills to the strategies of the future.

ICASA response
Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng, ICASA Chairperson, said the spectrum auction was currently underway in the country. This spectrum auction came as a result of the demand. This is the first auction that has ever occurred in South Africa. We have six applicants: Vodacom, MTN, Rain, Telkom, Cell C and Liquid Telecoms. These six applicants have paid application fees and all abide by the auction rules. Tied to this, it is important point to note, there are the tangible societal benefits. Over 500 police stations, 18 000 schools and over 5 800 government clinics will be digitally connected. It is on the back of this spectrum licensing that as a regulator we will be able lawfully to make meaningful interventions on complaints from communities about data costs.

When there is spectrum scarcity, ICASA is also constrained because operators raised a valid point that our input costs are very high as we must embark on the spectrum reframing and expensive exercises to ensure we render services to South Africans. Now that the auction is here, ICASA will be able to hold operators meaningfully to the commitments and aspirations for costs and improved user experience. It has been close to 15 years that ICASA has been attempting this spectrum. There is active litigation brought by Telkom on 5 January this year as Part A, which was an interdict and Part B was the substantive arguments. Telkom elected to withdraw Part A and go straight to Part B. Telkom is also participating in the auction, as a result, we believe that it will realise that this requires a serious spirit of patriotism and it is about the country, not us. We are appealing to it to consider allowing this process to reach its logical conclusion.

Ministry comments
Deputy Minister Mapulane said that it is an exciting moment for ICASA in the release of the spectrum. This has been a binding constraint that the sector players have been raising for. We are aware of the litigation and court arguments will be heard in April. However, we believe something might happen in engaging with the litigant to resolve the outstanding issues or come to some agreement so we allow South Africa to move forward. ICASA has started a process called the Opt-In and the big day for the auction is 10 March 2022 when the main auction will be taking place.

As for FPB, when we came to the Committee in August 2021, a recruitment moratorium had been imposed on several entities and the reason for that was the review commissioned by the Presidency. That process had been completed and there were now a few entities – on our side, it is BBI and Sentech – that a decision was taken that they must merge. The other DCDT entities were not affected but the Minister requested the other entities develop a review of their entities and operations and reimagine themselves into the future and present a plan and strategy. The FPB was in the process of doing that but there were several postponements and we have met with FPB and expressed displeasure that it was not finalising it. The FPB Council is fully committed and has assured the Deputy Minister that the strategy will be available before the end of this month. As soon as it is available, we will assess it. Once the Minister gives approval, it will be allowed to finalise its organisational structure. The structure must be aligned to the new strategy so that recruitment can commence. In the meantime, we have seconded a Department official as Acting CEO and he has hit the ground running. The Council is satisfied with Acting CEO Boloka and what he is doing in FPB.
There is also an exciting moment for it as the President proclaimed on 1 March that the FPB Amendment Act come into operation that was passed in 2019. It fundamentally changes the role and the mandate of FPB. The new Amendment Act has given it more powers to become the real content regulator of the future.

On SAPO, we have received the request by the Committee to brief it on the new strategy. We are pleased that the strategy has been finalised. This strategy will require funding and there are exciting initiatives in the strategy. We have had engagements with National Treasury on funding and there was good momentum. It is not a secret that SAPO has been bleeding for about seven years now. Successive leaders have been trying to resuscitate it. It is unfortunate that it has now resulted in it being in ICU. It is a matter that can be salvaged working with Treasury. The discussions were still ongoing and hopefully there may be some announcements on allocation of funding. We hope that by the time Treasury comes through it is not late for SAPO. The Department will continue nudging Treasury though.

We are pleased with the SABC Board and executive management sticking to the implementation of the turnaround plan. SABC will be meeting all the targets of the turnaround plan over three years. However, there are challenges around revenue, and this posed a significant risk to the Corporation. The Committee should prepare itself to receive proposals for the review of regulations and other matters that govern the SABC in order to make it sound and attract revenue. The SABC Board is stable, and we urge the Committee to finalise the one board member vacancy that must be filled.

The Minister said that the Deputy Minister has summarised the issues well. The Department will come before the Committee next week to present on SAPO. She appealed to the Committee that the briefing be treated with sensitivity as it will be sharing information of commercial interest that may jeopardise SAPO's future.

The Chairperson thanked the delegation and expressed appreciation for the areas of achievement. We need improvement on planning and resourcing to achieve the targets so that the Committee can justify the budget appropriations made. The Committee will welcome any legislative requests that come before it.

The roundtable discussions on the SABC organised by the Committee had stakeholders and broadcasters participating on the way SABC should move forward. We have participated in a debate on the SABC and its challenges. One of the items raised at the time was the funding model for the SABC as a public broadcaster. We need to look at the SABC funding model.

We should be pleased with the spectrum auction coming to fruition. We have agreed as a Committee not to call ICASA at this point and allow the auction process to continue. We will ensure that in the process we do not do lose focus. This task taking place is what the Committee committed to at the start of the Sixth Parliament in ensuring the Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) and the auction of the spectrum.

Committee Report on Jansenville post office petition
The Committee considered the Report and adopted without changes.

Committee minutes of 22 February 2022 were considered and adopted and the meeting ended.

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