Hansard: Appropriation Bill : Debate on Vote No 27: Communications
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 30 May 2011
No summary available.
EPC – COMMITTEE ROOM: E249
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 Take: 42
START OF DAY
TUESDAY, 31 MAY 2011
PROCEEDINGS OF THE EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE
Members of the Public Extended Committee met in Committee Room E249 at 10:03.
The House Chairperson, Mr C T Frolick, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
Debate on Vote No 27 - COMMUNICATIONS
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: The hon Chairperson, hon members of the House and Members of the Cabinet present, hon Deputy Minister of Communications, Mr Bapela, chairperson and members of the Portfolio Committee on Communications, chairperson and members of the Select Committee, distinguished guests from the information, communication and technology, ICT, sector, ladies and gentlemen, you will excuse me of course this morning, I seem to have a frog in my throat, and it is the remnants of flu.
Elections are an absolutely lucid moment in the march of a nation's history. The marvellous thing about this is that it takes you closer to the people. It is when the truth is there for all to see.
It is indeed an honour for me to deliver my first Budget Vote of the Department of Communications for the financial year 2011-2012, two weeks after the most successful local government elections ever held in this country.
The amazing part of all of this is that some sections of the media, celebrates the increase in the DA vote, rather than the fact that the elections were won by the ruling party by a 63% victory. [Applause.]
As we move towards the celebration of 100 years, charged with this mandate by our people, we are neither triumphalist nor boastful. Years of commitment to the cause of our people have instructed us to remain humble, improve on our short-comings and ensure continued service delivery to our people. We are humbled by this confidence. We also take this opportunity to congratulate the DA on having improved on its showing nationally. We trust that, as we accept our victory with humility, you will graciously accept your defeat with dignity.
The overwhelming participation in the local government elections was made possible by the unprecedented use of electronic communications services. This includes the role played by the SA Broadcasting Corporation, SABC, e-TV, our community radio stations, as well as Sentech and the Independant Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, in taking the elections to the people through technology. In 2010, the Human Sciences Research Council, HSRC, published a study, which indicated high levels of public confidence in the SABC, and satisfaction in the SABC as a disseminator of information.
In the build up to the elections, millions of voters checked their registration details, using mobile phones, and millions of messages were distributed over our electronic communications networks. Many compatriots, including political parties accessed social media, such as, facebook and twitter via mobile phones, laptops, smart phones, and etcetera. President Zuma's first tweet reads: "Democracy is flourishing in South Africa, thanks to the active participation of all citizens. It's wonderful. Vote 18 May!"
This Budget Vote presents our programme, building on the foundation that has been laid during the past 17 years. In the future, we will in time, and make it possible for every South African to access and use information and communications technologies, as we shape our country towards an inclusive, people-centred information society.
We are committed to working faster, harder and smarter in ensuring that we take technology to the people in service on the people.
A few days before the local government elections, I launched various service delivery projects in several rural areas amongst others, Ndwedwe, Nongoma, Impendle, Esikawini and Msinga in KwaZulu-Natal We introduced cyberlabs to the communities and schools, demonstrating that through the power of ICTs, we can help our learners to realise their true potential and improve their lives. In Msinga, we switched on a low power transmitter, which for the first time, allowed Gogo [Granny.] Khumalo to watch SABC's Izindaba [News.] and listen to uKhozi FM.
Bringing the joys and benefits of radio and television, creates value for the community. It means accessing news in IsiZulu to a Gogo [Granny.] and a school-going learner, means access to educational content, using a computer to experience the Internet for the first time. To a Bambino [Small child.], it means learning through Takalani Sesame. I was encouraged by the way these communities and learners in particular enthusiastically demonstrated their eagerness to embrace technology to improve their lives.
Since 2007, the ICT market has grown by over R131 billion to R179 billion in 2010. It is estimated that the sector will grow to R187 billion in 2011, with an estimated figure of R250 billion by 2020. This growth will be driven by the rapid uptake and usage of data and applications-driven mobile communications.
To achieve this growth target, we will implement several interventions to address the cost, communicate access to electronic communications infrastructure, and reduce barriers to entry, to promote competition in the sector. We will further introduce, in the House, amendments to the electronics communications market.
To address this deficit, we will work with key stakeholders, which include the organised labour towards the development of a shared Vision 2020 for the country.
To consolidate partnerships within the sector, we established an industry working group, comprising representatives from the top 30 ICT companies, operating in South Africa, tasked with strengthening the partnership between government and the private sector.
We are commencing with a new broadcasting landscape. In December 2010, Cabinet reaffirmed its decision to adopt the Digital Video Broadcasting – Second Generation Terrestrial, DVB-T2, standard for the process of digital migration. Accordingly, the preferred standard of DVB-T2 is an upgrade of the Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial, DVB-T. Cabinet has agreed to December 2013 as the new switch-off date, with a view to allow the period between 2013 and 2015 to address any challenges.
In light of all these developments, the department will implement interventions to ensure that South Africa migrates to digital broadcasting by 2013.
Substantial work has been done by Sentech in upgrading its broadcasting infrastructure from the existing DVB-T to DVB-T2. By March 2011, Sentech achieved 60% population coverage on the DVB-T2 standard. The uptake of digital broadcasting technology will expand the public bouquet in content viewing. We expect the SA Bureau of Standards to finalise the second generation DVB-T2 standard.
The set-top box manufacturing strategy, with the scheme for the framework for ownership support, will be submitted to Cabinet in August 2011. We are consulting widely with the industry and relevant stakeholders to finalise this process.
The manufacturing of subsidised set-up boxes will commence following Cabinet's approval. Sentech will, in June 2011, switch-on the first DVB-T2 transmission at the Brixton Tower, in Johannesburg, targeting townships and informal settlements around the Johannesburg metropolitan area.
On the issue regarding the Broadcasting Policy Review, ushering in the new digital environment, the process to review the current broadcasting policy landscape will commence with great urgency. We will in the coming three weeks, launch the broadcasting review process. This process will, amongst others, inform the interventions to be implemented in order to position the public broadcaster in the new digital environment. We will also use this opportunity to investigate an appropriate funding model for the SABC. It will be to ensure that the provision of public service remains the SABC's main priority.
To fast-track this process, and broaden the base of participation, I will constitute a panel of experts to assist with the policy review. This panel will advise on various policy issues, including the following: Embracing convergence and new media services; the creation of an enabling licensing and regulatory environment; growth and development of local content industries; and the role of the three-tier broadcasting system – public, commercial and community broadcasting. Community broadcasting remains a critical project for the department, and will remain on our radar screen for years to come.
Technology changes and advances in forms of communication, such as e-mail and social networking, are placing an increasing pressure on traditional forms of communication. Hundred and eighty million rand has been allocated for the distribution network of the Post Office to be expanded, to ensure the inclusion of rural communities into the mainstream. The vision of PostBank is to provide a national banking system that delivers stable, accessible and dependable services to the public and businesses. It stands to be one of the best guarantees underpinning economic resilience. The PostbBank Act was signed into law in December 2010. This will allow the SA Post Office, Sapo, through the PostBank, to prioritise the banking needs of the unbanked majority.
The ICT infrastructure is a basic foundation for economic competitiveness. Government has, during the last few years, increased investment in infrastructure, to create jobs and stimulate the economy. In this regard, an initial R450 million, over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, period, has been allocated for the provision of broadband services.
Sentech and Ethekwini Municipality are in discussions to create an intelligent city, as part of our focus on providing broadband services in urban areas. This will allow for Internet-based government services that enable ubiquitous connectivity to transform key government processes.
Radio frequency spectrum is a strategic natural scarce resource, at our disposal, to effect changes in the provision of electronic communications services at a faster rate. The department, in partnership with Icasa, will therefore conduct a radio frequency spectrum audit, to ensure effective utilisation of scarce resources, covering all bands contained in the national frequency plan. We intend to issue a policy direction to Icasa to conduct a review of the Digital Dividend, which is the spectrum to be freed by the digital broadcasting migration process.
During the state of the nation address, the President highlighted job creation and rural development as amongst the key priorities of government. The department is currently finalising its ICT rural development strategy to determine the priority under-serviced areas.
As per the target set out in the New Growth Path, the department together with the ICT sector, will facilitate the creation of over 150 000 direct and indirect jobs by 2020. State-owned enterprises are the delivery arms of government.
At Sentech, the newly appointed chairperson, board and chief executive officer are showing remarkable commitment in working together to stabilise the organisation. As part of our efforts to refocus Sentech to deliver services to the people, R279 million has been allocated to prioritise the rollout of digital broadcasting signal coverage to the entire country.
The SABC remains a critical focus for us. We have made significant strides in stabilising the corporation. It has been allocated R84 million to improve its technological capabilities and educational programming. Another R41 million has been allocated to Channel Africa, whose future role and social obligations will be discussed as part of the Broadcasting Policy review process.
A review of the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa's, USAASA's, strategic direction in the provision of universal access and service, is to be undertaken. This strategic repositioning seeks to transform USAASA into a digital opportunity foundation, and to remove the bottlenecks. They have made it difficult for us to exploit the Universal Service and Access Fund. Specific focus will be given to Icasa to increase its capacity to regulate a fast-changing technological and market environment.
Commercial radio services will also be licensed in the Free State, Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape; following the licensing of similar services in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West. Icasa will soon announce the successful bidders for the commercial radio licences in Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban.
ICT skills and the capacity to use new technologies remain a pre-requisite for effective participation of citizens. We have established five provincial e-Skills Knowledge Production Hubs at partnering universities, which will better co-ordinate and invigorate all e-skills-related activities. ICTs have changed traditional boundaries between countries globally. Therefore, our interventions to take technology to the people continue to be influenced by developments in other parts of the world.
In June 2011, the Southern African Development Community, SADC, Ministers responsible for ICTs and postal services, will inaugurate the new Regional Association of Regulators. Together with other developing countries, we will continue to advocate for an equitable global ICT environment through participation in our work in the International Telecommunication Union, ITU.
During November 2010, we made the point that it was absolutely necessary to transform the department from its past culture and work ethic. I am pleased to report that we have made sufficient progress in turning around the department for the better.
I, therefore have pleasure in announcing the appointment of the Director-General of the Department of Communications, Ms Rosey Sekese, effective from 01 June 2011. I wish her well in her new role. [Applause.]
I wish to thank Dr Harold Wesso, who contributed immensely towards the current stability in the department, during his tenure as the acting Director-General. Allow me also to express appreciation to the chairpersons and chief executive officers, CEOs, of the public entities reporting to the DoC and leaders of the ICT industry, who have enthusiastically come on board to partner with the DoC; Deputy Minister for his support; chairperson and members of the Portfolio Committee on Communications for their guidance and support; my own staff for their valuable and unqualified support; and my family for bearing the pains and trauma of the past seven months.
I therefore invite the House to approve Budget Vote No 27 of the Department of Communications. I thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr S E KHOLWANE / ARM / END OF TAKE
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS
Mr S E KHOLWANE: Chairperson, I'm intimidated because when I look at the watch, already the minutes were down. I'm not starting at 15 minutes that is why I took some time to look at the watch.
The Chairperson, hon members of the House, members of Cabinet, hon Minister of Communications, hon Deputy Minister of Communications, Members of the Portfolio Committee on Communications, the newly appointed Director-General of the Department of Communications and the staff, Chairperson and other ICASA councillors, Board members and Chief Executive Officers of the SOEs, Chairpersons, Board members, CEOs, Senior Captains of the ICT and the Postal Industry, members of the media, all of you who are here, and the comrades;
It is my pleasure to introduce on behalf of the committee the Budget Debate Vote 27 of the Department of communications. The ANC maintains that Information and Communications Technologies plays an important role in the national development. The success or failure of the ICT interventions to an able development will continue to depend on how all spheres of government, including state owned enterprises conceptualise ICT and development.
We are encouraged that the Minister is placing more emphasis on the usage of ICT. We also like to note that the department and its SOEs delivery programmes will be directed at specific development activities, such as jobs creation and making the ICT and postal services available, in particular rural communities with clear deliverables and within set timeframes.
The key question which we should be asking ourselves as a nation and a country is how we would achieve this expansion of infrastructure as a developmental state. We must acknowledge that the wisdom to develop policies does not reside with one side, either the committee in Parliament, neither the Department of Communications at the industry. It needs all of us to collectively approach it and coherently agree in terms of the part we need to follow as a country.
However, we are also encouraged that currently – and we have noted that the department is over stretched - one of the key challenges we are facing is the fragmented manner on which policies are being introduced without analysis of the effect of such policies to the sector.
These are the issues which we have raised with the department, and these are the matters they will be attending to. We welcome the appointment of the Director – General. This should bring about the much needed stability, improve co-operate governance, and in turn improve productivity and service delivery. The chapter of all outstanding human resource matters must be closed.
We are pleased that the department is currently reviewing its organogram. We hope that their reviewed structure will zoom into the actual challenges which are facing the department, which is their capacity to develop policies and their ability to look after the state owned enterprises as the shareholder.
We must acknowledge that as we debate today, the regulator is in a better shape in terms of stability under the leadership of Dr S Mncube. We must also appreciate ICASA's effort of holding the summit with people living with disabilities during the 15 and 16 March.
However, in due course we will be taking a report from ICASA because we believe that, that summit was not a talk show, but it was a summit which must come with recommendations which must be implemented by the regulator and also be integrated to the programme of the department, the SOEs and so on. So we will be welcoming that report from the regulator as time goes on.
The committee has previously noted the important shortcoming in the current regulatory processes, namely, the absence of regulatory impact assessment before making regulations. As a result, it is not clear what the benefit and course of some of the relations are. Furthermore, regulations drafted are often inadequate and many times have to be redrafted soon after they have been put in place.
The regulator continues to react to situations than proactively engage the industry. We hope that will come to an end. We want the regulator to vigorously engage the industry so that whatever regulation they are embarking on, is the regulation which should be acceptable, of course taking interests of the country and the nation at heart.
Maybe it is time to ask ourselves difficult questions as to whether the current structure is still relevant today as it was before. Do we still need fulltime counsellors or we need to move to part time counsellors? Do we still need ICASA led by counsellors, or we need ICASA led by executives? Those are the questions we must ask ourselves as hard it may be, so that we can give clarity and direction.
The issue of adequate re-sourcing of the regulator is long overdue, it is a matter which we cannot go back and debate about it. We expect the department to come with a clear plan on how we would empower the regulator and resources so that it can be able to execute its duties. You cannot expect the regulator to go to the operators to ask information and be satisfied that indeed they are complying, because they don't have the necessary equipment to look after or to enforce the regulation and so on.
However, the industry cannot go scot-free our tag as a committee, as the industry is also fragmented. You have plus or minus twenty something organisations without the industry, it is not workable. We cannot be able even to engage you as an industry or as a committee, so that we can get a shared common vision.
We put to you as an industry that you must go back, sort yourself out so that we can be able to constructively engage with you. Currently, it's a nightmare as to how to engage the industry. You must please do that so that we can start to speak with one voice as an industry, to make sure that we better this industry moving forward.
We must also indicate that one of the priorities of the ANC-led government is the job creation issue as the Minister has correctly put it. However, what we are saying is that we seem to have lost focus as a nation, because most of the time whatever regulation we are coming with, the first question we must ask ourselves is, how is it going to assist in expanding the ICT infrastructure?
When we come up with the policy, the question to ask will be how that policy is going to assist us in making sure that we expand the infrastructure. By coming up with regulations and policies which does not help us to expand the infrastructure, it would seem that we continue to disadvantage those people in rural areas, which has not benefited under apartheid, and still continue not to benefit even now because we are unable to expand the infrastructure.
We call upon the regulator, the department, ourselves as a committee and the industry, to start to focus on that particular matter. That is the matter of national interest. Around the issue of the spectrum, we are clear and on record as the ANC that whatever road we take about the spectrum should be developmental in nature.
We cannot afford to go for an auction for a spectrum just to fundraise for the fiscas whereas our people in rural areas still do not have access to the infrastructure of ICT. So whatever policy we take, whatever the regulator comes with the regulation that should ensure that we address the issue of accessibility of the infrastructure in rural areas. There are no two ways about that. That is what the ANC resolved in its conference. On the issue of the spectrum, we expect that to happen so that the spectrum can also stimulate the SMMEs within the sector.
On the issue about the SABC, we are pleased that the SABC has managed the elections very well. They have surpassed some of us on the expectations that we were expecting them to do. I think the nation now understands what the importance of the public broadcaster is, but I'm saying that we are pleased in the way they have managed the elections coverage; In such a way that the late Mr Kgomotso Sebetso, wherever he is. Wherever he is resting, he will be happy when he looks back on how good the SABC has dealt with the ANC coverage. [Laughter.]
The ANC is a ruling party, and of course it is ruling. It also has to make sure that its mandate as the ANC is pushed. But, we must also congratulate Dr Ben Ngubane for the good sterling work he is doing for the SABC, the board is now stable. They might not be able to do other things but the fact of the matter is, when you open the newspaper in the morning, you do not read about the SABC anymore. You read about other things which are happening in the country. [Applause.]
However, we should be cautious that when the SABC is busy reviewing the editorial policy, we must make sure that all the South Africans as much as they can, they do participate. It should not be an Auckland Park process, but it should be the process that all South Africans participate on. I must say to remind all fellow South Africans, "Pay your TV licence", it is a good thing to do.
On the issue of digital migration, we are fully in agreement with the Minister that the process must move with the speed in particular the education of our community so that they can start to understand what this process means, and how it is going to unfold.
Chairperson, in closing I would like to reiterate the following principles: The department must at all times communicate clear policy statements. The SOEs that falls under the DOC governance structure must ensure that their communication messages are aligned to those of the Ministry and the department. All deliverables and timelines must be adhered to without failure. The department must ensure that it secures professional and knowledgeable resources that will drive its programme of action. Human resource development and mentorship programmes must be intensified in partnership with sector members.
The ANC will not allow any failure to the programme as outlined by the Minister. We are also encouraged that the budget as requested is sufficient in the short to medium term, to address out the ICT and Postal needs. It becomes important that the ICT continues to play a pivotal role and catalyst to our developmental agenda as a developing country. The ANC supports this Budget Vote. Thank you Chairperson. [Applause.]
Mrs N W A MICHAEL / C.I/Eng / END OF TAKE
Mr S E KHOLWANE
Mrs N W A MICHAEL: House Chairperson, Minister of Communications, Deputy Minister of Communications, colleagues and distinguished guests, allow me as the Minister did to also apologise. It seems we are sharing this particular frog and if my voice doesn't sound as it is normally does as the remnants of Cape Town flu. It is great pleasure for me to be here today to address you on this communication's Budget Vote. It also gives me great pleasure to report on a much improved Communications Department as well as various improvements in the departments entities.
As we know strategic plans of the Department of Communications and its entities take into account the following six key areas: The define concepts, market analysis, workforce, risk and opportunities, investment and innovation and monitoring and evolution of the department. It was refreshing to note that generally department and entities present report to the Portfolio Committee with the information that was necessary and relevant and instance with the information with sub-standard, the Portfolio Committee did not hesitate in sending them away to correct this problems.
The relationship between the Portfolio Committee and the Department of Communications and its entities is good and productive one. In a growing economy, the development of the Information and Communication Technology, ICT, policy is of the utmost importance. It is essential to support an ICT sector which creates and accelerates conditions for the growth of the economy. We must, I repeat, we must bridge the digital divide. We have just gone through a local government election and one of the most important election points for almost all political parties was job creation. In this day and age, it is virtually impossible to run a business, however small, without access to the internet. I think I share a common dream with 99, 9% of my fellow South Africans for the universal access to the information highway.
While I am pleased that we are well on our way to equipping and providing structure for this universal access, I think I share in the frustration at the length of time it is taking, as well as the horrendously high costs involved. The access to the internet, access to the information highway, remains in the hands of very few South Africans. The opportunities that are possible in terms of education, social upliftment and economic growth are boundless. We as South Africans must not be complacent about ensuring this universal access to information and we must ensure that it becomes the right of every single South African.
A great success story this year is the South African post office. Their strategic programme includes: the development of customer intelligence, organisation realignment around the customer, customer experience improvement and solution development per customer segment. What you will note from what I have just said is the keyword, the customer, this is what we want to see, an entity catering to the public with one objective to make the customers experience as easy, pleasurable, and successfully as possible. When the South African Post Office presented its annual plan etc to our portfolio, I congratulated them on a job well done, I would like to do so again today, but, let me say this congratulation is conditional, you can't let us down by not implementing all the good that you have indicated that you are going to do, beware we are watching.
The turnaround in Dentrech can also not be ignored. From being the nightmare entity with no direction and on the doorstep of the financial meltdown, this entity is now on the road to recovery, thanks largely to the dedication, hard work and perseverance of its new management. There is a very long way to go, but the signs are good and much hope and anticipation rests on your success. Your success in take ensures social upliftment, economic growth and sustainability of successful business.
Great excitement now exists regarding the digital terrestrial television network. We have a deadline set for December 2013, we must ensure that this date is adhered too, we simply cannot fall behind the international community as we are already far behind and it is our responsibility to all South Africans that we deliver the service to them. We now finally have a complete SABC board I don't think in the history of any organisation have so many CV's been read, interviews been conducted, appointments made and resignation received. May I take this opportunity to thank members of the board who started through hard times, you ensured that the ship did not sink completely and you did not jump out of the ship, you stayed on boat even when the water was high and the water was cold. You helped maintain a semblance of order for the SABC, and we thank you for your dedication.
In fact they did deserve a hand of applause. May we always remember this however the SABC is a public broadcaster and not a state broadcaster, it remains fundamental important that information that is broadcasted by the SABC remains free, fair and political neutral. All editing policies must be highly scrutinised to ensure that we maintain absolute media freedom. At present, the SABC board is stable, and it is my sincerest to wish that it remains stable and successful as this benefits all South Africans. However I would like to point this out, access for the disabled remains a huge problem with regards to the SABC. People that are deaf and blind suffer because they do not have the access that fully able South Africans have with regard to the SABC. All South Africans deserve the right to access all that the SABC has to offer, let us not let this group of South Africans suffer unnecessarily.
Access for the disabled is an absolute essential. Allow me to congratulate Ms Rosie Sikisie on her appointment as Director-General, DG, for the Department of Communications. Minister you did give us a support of surprise announcing it today in your speech but may I thank you for making this long overdue appointment. I would also like to thank Mr Herold Wesson, I applaud you for doing an incredibly difficult job in your acting role and I thank you for your dedication and I'm sorry you are sitting behind me because I can't turnaround but what you did to turn the Department of Communications around was really a marvellous achievement.
In my conclusion, allow me to thank my colleague, the hon Nickie van Don Berg for his assistance during my time on the committee, his dedication to the cause and his understanding that we betterment of the all South Africans. A big thank you to the Portfolio Committee, besides a few disagreements that we have here and there, which I think are only normal we generally enjoyed a very pleasant experience and as a committee as whole we understand that we work for South Africa. We have one task as public representatives; we have to improve the lives of all South Africans. May we, as the Communications Department and all the entities execute all our decisions with only that in mind? I thank you.
Mrs J D KILIAN / NN / END OF TAKE
Mrs N W A MICHAEL
Mrs J D KILIAN: Chairperson, Minister, Deputy Minister, colleagues, everybody in the public gallery, all entities reporting to Parliament and to the Department of Communication – Cope, in last year's budget debate stressed the strategic importance of the Department of Communication, DoC, and its key role to expand access to knowledge, information and economic empowerment.
We requested the Minister then to develop a turnaround strategy for the DoC, and to turn it into a proactive dynamic department; to make key interventions to drive both government and agencies reporting to it, as well as the private sector; towards ensuring affordable access to communication and information technology for irrevocable change in the lives, specifically, of poor communities.
Since then, both the political and departmental heads were chopped and we have new incumbents in those positions. May we congratulate the new Minister, today, on very important immediate interventions that he has made? Amongst others, is the very rational decision to revert back to the Digital Video Broadcasting – Transmission 2 standards, DVB-T2 standards - although new technology, now the 2 - for digital migration, and to again put the SMME sector back into production of Sector Education and Training Authority, SETA, boxes.
The new Minister appears to be serious about putting the department on the right road to recovery, to ensure that key strategic objectives are achieved. Can we also add our voice of congratulations to the new DG Ms Rosey Sekese? She will find support from our party when she does all the right things; when she achieves the key strategic objectives and policy interventions over the next three to four years. It will require unfortunately also a final determination on the departmental skills, capacity in the department and the organisational restructuring.
May we please also just caution that we believe that no interim positions should be filled – vacancies – until those processes have been concluded? Notwithstanding the appeal by the President that vacancies in departments should be filled. We believe it would be wrong. We should first conclude those processes.
With the right management structure and the right people in place, we have no doubt to know and to believe that the department of communication will be able to deliver on its mandate; namely, to open access to affordable communication highways and particular affordable internet bandwidth, which is the lifeblood of the world's knowledge economy.
The Budget allocation to the department, including transfers to institutions reporting to it, reached a peak during the previous Budget year, and will slowly decline in the years ahead. It will, in fact, decline to the same level as that of the 2007-08 Budget-Year. The department, during the same period, from 2007 to 2008, in fact doubled its staff complement, which resulted in an escalating trend of expenditure on compensation of employees.
What is now necessary is that we need to do and conduct an honest assessment of performance outcomes of the department in relations to its growing bureaucracy; that is mandatory - to make sure that it is not only a growing bureaucracy but actually one that delivers on these strategic imperatives.
What is key importance in this process - I believe, on behalf of Cope - is that we should look at the Pro-rata Principle. What are the 20% steps that need to be implemented to have 80% of the effect, and not to have the reverse? We have a fantastic strategic report here by the department. It seems 80% of activities are not going to result in 20% impact out there in the market. That needs to be determined.
If I can go back to just a few entities reporting to this department - the SA Broadcasting Corporation, SABC. We would like to add our voice to congratulate the SABC, also, not only on her successful interest that they created in the local government elections, but on their very successful Fifa 2010 World Cup. It was well delivered; under difficult circumstances!
We want to really also applaud the SABC Board – up to Ben Ngubane for bringing stability to the Board, and also to the senior management of this institution!
Progress has also been made towards financial stability in the public broadcaster. Although the Portfolio Committee on Communications, the Committee, is still awaiting details about the repayment of monies borrowed against government guarantees. That will be a separate session. The Board must, however, remain vigilant to ensure that a recurrence of corrupt practices and lamentable tendencies of the past will be arrested, going forward, completely.
We welcome steps that they have taken, including the intervention of the Special Investigations Unit to bring necessary people – those people who have been identified through investigation – to book. That needs to be processed, also, going forward.
As far as editorial policy is concerned, I would like to add my voice strangely to the Chairperson of the Portfolio on Communications, to say that I fully support - as Cope we fully support - the fact that any changes to editorial policy should be done in terms of the Act.
The SABC is a creature of statute and, any changes to temper with news editorial policies via the back door will be illegal. This includes a disconcerting directive to news reporters, circulated last year, in terms of which the ANC Polokwane Resolutions were regarded as the focus areas for new bulletins. This is against the law and it is against the Constitution.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, has now fortunately shifted. They are focused in the right direction. Its responsibility is to regulate the market and to assess the impact of its regulations. We support them, and I want to make one concluding remark, Chairperson. Ms Graca Machel, earlier this year said, and I want to quote from a speech she made... [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE / /Mosa/ END OF TAKE
Ms J D KILIAN
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, first of all I want to say that I'm not a member of this committee but it seems to be an interesting committee that I may reconsider the committee that I serve on. [Laughter.]
Our Reverend Zondi serves in this committee but he cannot be here today. He has asked me to say few words on his behalf. Firstly, he asked me to congratulate the new Minister, and the deputy, on his appointment to this portfolio and on the great progress he had made thus far in correcting the situation in this previously poorly led department. He didn't say the deputy I'm adding that.[Laughter.]
The Minister has led from the front and should be commended for his decisive leadership and many key making decisions. Reverend Zondi says cometh the hour, cometh the man. That's you. You are that man. This certainly is true in this instance.
Also, I want to refer to the chairperson's input, Mr Kholwane. I thought you made very interesting proposals and I'm sure the committee will take those further. You appear to be well in the saddle of this committee and I wish you well. [Applause.]
However, there are many challenges that still lay ahead. I would like to outline some key areas that the IFP would like to see addressed by the department.
Internally the department is still plugged in its management structures dealing with strategic alignment, human resources, financial management and institutional review. Irregular appointment of staff without the required competencies is another. The Minister should therefore take stock of the staff complement of his department. People who are found in positions where they are not suitably qualified or incompetent to occupy should be removed and replaced by better incumbents.
The principle of good corporate governance must be strictly adhered to. We are mindful of the fact that the present Minister inherited work in progress aimed at turning around the South African Broadcasting Corporation, SABC. While we are satisfied that good progress has been made in improving the situation in the SABC, we are at the same time under no force illusions that problems which beset the SABC will soon be over on the contrary.
The other entities which fall under the broad oversight of the Portfolio Committee on Communications such as Sentech, the Media Diversity and Development Agency, the independent communications agency of South Africa also have their own internal challenges which need to be attendant to. For example, Sentech was for the good part of the year under review beset by its own financial management problems. Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, is another entity of critical importance which still has internal challenges which impede its smooth functioning. The Media Development Diversity Agency, MDDA, is one entity which is in our view is by the look of things whose importance is greatly undermined. This is largely reflected in the small budgetary allocation which is not consonant with the huge mandate that it has to execute.
In conclusion, I would like to commend the officials of the department, the new Minister, the new Director-Director, DG, and all of the entities which fall under the wing of the Department of Communications for the good work they have done under difficult and challenging conditions. We wish them all success for the new year. The IFP supports the Budget Vote. Finally, Chairperson, I want to say that if there is going to be an oversee trip by this department remember that I made the good speech, not Reverend Zondi and I must go. [Laughter.][Applause.]
Ms S R TSEBE / GC / END OF TAKE
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE
Ms S R TSEBE: Chairperson, our guests in the gallery, Members of Parliament present here today. This debate takes place after we have held successful local government elections in which South Africans renewed their contract with the ANC, together building better communities.
Hon Minister, this will not be a reality for as long as the development of Information Communications Technology, ICT, is still skewed, for as long as we are not reaching out to the poor of the poorest in addressing the imbalances of the past.
ICT, is a key ingredient of any economy, particularly developing economies. ICT can provide the backbone for a country's socio economic development, where participation of the majority of people is only hampered by lack of access. The history of our country is littered with the many examples of people being denied opportunities to participate in the mainstream economy on the basis of their skin. This has posed challenges of universal access to ICT that we experience today.
We are currently faced with challenges of reversing the damages that were caused by decades of policies that were meant to promote racial discrimination, and which resulted in certain groups of people denied access to telecommunications services. The initiative to change the situation could not be left to market forces alone to decide, and government has identified the need to develop programmes that will change patterns of telecommunications accessibility through direct government interventions.
The needs of the business sector in South Africa should be coupled with the needs of people in the rural areas, might run the risk of drawing the interest of resources away from the delivery of service to rural and disadvantaged communities.
The need for government intervention in directing investments in ICT sector, to underserviced areas was expressly outlined in the Reconstruction and Development Programme, RDP, in 1994, in which the RDP pledged to provide universal access to telecommunications and information technology to a broad spectrum of our people, but most importantly to schools and clinics within two years.
These considerations informed the promulgation of the telecommunications Act No 103 of 1996, which has specified targets of a universal access goal of 20 telephones per 100 population per province by the year 2000.In the context of South Africa, access to ICT services, is more visible when compared on a province by province basis, with Gauteng the leading province with regard to access to ICT. This has left a big gap to be filled, when one compares Gauteng with other provinces that are predominantly rural and economically depressed like Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West.
The challenge of universal access to ICT is a global phenomenon, but what is particularly interesting to note about universal access in the context of South Africa is that, as a country, we have one of the best development communications technology sector, which exist side by side by a massive inequality in terms of access. This inequality meant that numbers of historically disadvantaged communities, and particularly those in rural areas were deprived, which represents the challenge of this department and its entities that must be addressed urgently hon Minister.
ICT is also key in the task of developing our communities, the business sector, which we so dearly want to invest in rural areas and help to alleviate the problem of unemployment, cannot invest in areas where there is no telecommunications infrastructure, coupled with other infrastructure needs, like the roads, network and transport.
We applaud the vision that encapsulated the repeal of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and replaced it with the Electronic Communications Act of 2006, particularly as it underpinned the creation of an especially dedicated agency, responsible for the goals of universal service and access. This Agency has a mammoth task to fulfil, given the huge disparities that characterise the ICT sector. We encourage the department to measure its work and allocate its sufficient resources to fulfil this key mandate.
We also need to acknowledge that, there were many areas where radio, television and telephone services had not fully penetrated into the communities, and this meant that the legacy of apartheid was being relieved, but we applaud the progress that the department and its entities has registered for the period 1996 to date.
According to SABC, currently we at a balance of 3,6 million people who are not able to receive SABC channels terrestrially.
Hon Minister, challenges still exist for example, there is no clear vision for the ICT sector in the country and Universal Service Agency Agency, USAASA, has failed to submit the universal access service strategy, which would develop clear terms of reference and performance indicators for the task of providing universal access.
This problem also makes it difficult in identifying and providing clarity on where the gaps are, which means that the determination of the costs involved is unknown, and cannot be a matter of a wild guess, therefore the importance of providing the critical information by the department and its entity, which would help to get us close to finalising a national ICT strategy, cannot be over-emphasized.
Universal service and access has three legs, availability, accessibility and affordability of services, to the greater majority of the citizens of the country.
The advent of a cell phone industry has meant that there is a big progress regarding accessibility to South Africans, with accompanying cheap telephones handsets which make it possible for people to communicate.
The cell phones has revolutionarised the communications industry greatly, although there are still areas that lacks access, which need to be attended to without any further delay. What is the role of Telecom in achieving universal service and as a state owned entity hon Minister, because, if Eskom is able to reach out all four corners of South Africa with electricity, why cannot Telecom do the same? Our people are suffering down there.
hon Minister, maybe the Unbundling of the local loop and the digital migration might be the answer to some of the challenges, not forgetting adequate funding to all entities under communications.
Many people have access to television sets and radios, but at times do not enjoy a full spectrum of products that they offer, because there is no coverage in certain instances, where it exists. It does not offer adequate services.Santec needs also to pull up their socks as the National Signal Distributor. I am interested to know hon Minister, who decides where Santec goes? And after that decision has been taken, what is the role of the Department of Communications
In my own view, if the DOC or yourself as the Minister appointed by the ANC,if you are part and parcel, who decides where Santec goes, I think the future of our rural areas will be bright. Not currently as the situation it might be. Where I come from the situation is very bad in terms of accessing the universal access.
The other challenge in this regard to access to computers, particularly access to Internet and Broadband Services. People who have access to computers in their households, do not have access to Internet Facilities, and the distribution of 3G is concentrated in metropolitan areas, like I have already mentioned Gauteng, and in the North West we are suffering very much badly.[Laughter].
Hon DM, I have to mention North West because the people of North West have nominated me to represent them on this podium, so I am speaking on their behalf.
Secondly, there is still lack of coordination of universal access and universal services programmes, which points to lack of strategy. It is still not clear exactly where the ICT gaps are despite promises by USAASA, as there is no clear definition of underserviced areas and no list of such areas in the country despite such submission to Icasa.
Majority of our people especially the rural poor and underserviced areas still lacks access to both basic and advanced communications services, especially access to broadband.
Therefore, hon Minister, it cannot be correct, we cannot justify our children not attaining access, what should be basic right merely, because Icasa is dragging its feet on definitions and USSASA is unable to direct the industry, where and how to address their universal service and access obligations.
In conclusion, allow me to applaud USSASA and Post Office , for the good work they are doing for the historically disadvantaged community of Mantsere Village in the North West, Moses Kotane Municipality under the new leadership Mayoress mme Fetsang Mokati Thebe.
USSASA has promised to supply 40 computers for each five schools. For the very first time the community of Mantsere, will have a Post Office. We would also like to encourage other entities to follow suit in particular Telecom. I have seen the CEO is here, Telecom please follow suit.
As the ANC, we are not just passing this Budget for the sake of supporting, we are doing so, because we believe that it will assist DOC and its entities to deliver better life for all. That is our key mandate. Thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMUNICATION / MMN / END OF TAKE
Ms S R TSEBE
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister of Communications, Mr Roy Padayachie, hon colleagues in the Cabinet, hon members of the portfolio committee, all members, senior managers and staff of the Department of Communications, the newly appointed general-director, Ms Rosey Sekese, leadership and management of state-owned enterprises, SOEs, captains of the Information and Communication Technology, ICT, the broadcasting and postal industry, the civil society leaders in the ICT sector, my comrades and friends, fellow South Africans, it is exactly fourteen days after we celebrated the World Telecommunications and Information Society Day with the theme: "Better life in Rural Communities with ICTs".
I am glad to have participated in Tzaneen where they were designing a concept of rural connectivity. I thank the Tzaneenian people for their hospitality. We celebrated the day itself inAtteridgeville with the learners, and educators and industry leaders, where 2 000 people gathered. It was indeed a marvellous day to celebrate this event.
Six days ago, on 25 May, we celebrated the Africa Day in building a better Africa. Through the African Telecommunications Union, we will continue to pursue issues related to internet governance and accessibility, affordability and availability of the electronic communications network and services in Africa. Therefore, this Budget Vote No 27 comes at the most exciting moment in our country and in particular, the ICT sector.
With the power of fixed and mobile broadband abundantly available through landed international cables and fibre optic cables in our country, we will improve government's ability to provide quality basic service by connecting Thusong services centres, regional offices, schools and health facilities in pursuance of our ideal society of a connected people. We will do this so that Ms Sebe, from North West, no longer complains.
As the Minister said, our theme for the 2011 Budget Vote is: "Taking technology to the people in service of the people". It is more relevant and not a slogan, as it responds to government's developmental trajectory and the International Telecommunication Union, ITU's, World Telecommunications and Information Society Day's theme of working to build better lives with ICTs.
This theme directs us to channel our efforts towards implementing the department's envisaged Vision 2020 and achieving government's medium-term strategic framework priority of building sustainable livelihoods. That we will help in meeting the millennium development goals, MDGs, as we approach our 20th anniversary of a free and democratic South Africa by 2014.
In 2009, we ranked 34th in the world in terms of fixed-line telephony, with over 4,3 million fixed-line connections. South Africa today, is one of the fastest growing mobile communications markets in the world. As of 2009, there were over 46,4 million mobile users. The country ranks the country 26th in terms of mobile subscriber numbers.
Findings by World Wide Worx in 2009, representing individual users, show that mobile communication in South Africa has reached 50 million connections. This confirms that South Africa's cellular market enjoys robust growth with market penetration of about 100%. The technology of the 3G and the 2G plus is unfortunately still something we need to look at in the rural areas, as hon Zille said. The 2G plus still gives people, what we call EDGE and the GPRS. You will wait forever just for a computer to open or to Google.
It happened to me while I was in Tzaneen. I wanted to pay for my services and I waited for 15 minutes on the 2G plus. As a country, the deployment of the 3G, as a country, ought to be taken by the industry and everybody involved. We must ensure that all our people receive the same technology, as the world is also preparing for a long-term evolution of 4G. We must ensure that we also enjoy those benefits.
An increase in the number of undersea cables linking South Africa to the rest of the world, plus the introduction of the smart cellular phone, has seen a shake-up in local internet access, with the number of South African internet users passing six million, which finally breaks through the 10% mark in internet penetration for the country.
Regarding broadband access, we are not doing well as a country, compared to other middle-income countries and compared to those in North Africa, which are ahead of us. While mobile broadband has bolstered broadband access, growth remains relatively poor and not adequate to push international broadband ranking indices. It is estimated by the World Summit of Information Society that South Africa is far behind, with regard to broadband and internet usage, compared to other developing countries
Concerning radio and television, 94% of the population has access to radio, while 84% has access to television. In bridging the existing divide in our own communities, we will continue to roll out low power transmitters, taking into account the digital migration.
We also envisage that the advent of digital migration will close the access gap, by proving TV access to all South African between 2013 and 2015. Here I want to also urge the content developers and independent producers to pause and to look at the whole changing environment of the explosion of TV. They must ensure that they are ready to provide us with content. Otherwise, we will end up with Bollywood and Hollywood third-grade movies, dominating our market and with less and less of South African content. They must stand up and prepare for 2013.
The SABC and e.tv will have up to 18 to 27 multichannels. Unless the content producers and independent producers focus on readiness, those channels might run empty. The department should mobilise and organise them to get themselves ready so that the migration is not only about technology but also about the content that we will enjoy. If we don't attend to this issue, we will lose the battle of the ideas
I am confident that these applications and services will help us as a nation and the developing world, in particular, to get closer to reaching the MDGs of ending ignorance and accessing information that will empower our people.
We have a responsibility to connect the remaining 21 000 schools throughout the country, of which the majority are in rural areas. We have only connected 7 000 of the 28 000 schools. There are 21 000 schools outstanding. Fortunately, plans are underway start the e-schools connectivity project. Director-General Sekese says you were led in this particular area. I hope you will still be available to see the fruition of the e-school connectivity.
Plans are also beginning with other Deputy Ministers as they are involved in the e-school connectivity, to ensure that e-health is also in place and that all clinics are connected so that the national health insurance can find infrastructure to roll it out.
Another area of the e-Skills is to ensure that our people are e-skilled, as far as the use of technology is concerned. The qualifications that we need for the future workers are in ICT. It must be focused and related to the main, so that it can also contribute to a knowledge-based economy.
With regard to the roll-out of infrastructure, we need more money as the strategic plan of the department states. We need about R75 billion to roll out the infrastructure. What I am referring to is also known as the info-structure, as identified in the new growth path. It has been identified as an economic enabler and therefore we need to ensure that the country is highly connected.
Regarding the roll-out in the ICD infrastructure, we require an integrated approach from both private and public sectors. The national, provincial and local municipalities must work together to ensure that we roll out together on this important element.
South Africa is a developmental state and government will intervene to address market failures. In this regard, we call upon the industry to co-operate and collaborate in pursuit of common objectives, as universal access to ICT has spin-offs for an inclusive economic growth, job creation and development.
On cyber crime and cyber security, the advent of the internet and new information, communication and technologies didn't alert us to possible threat of cyber-crime. ICT is a transversal tool for interacting and intersecting at every major societal activity and government has the responsibility to enact laws and regulations to protect its citizens from any possible threat.
I trust we are all aware that the internet knows no boundaries. Allow me to share with you the kind of common crimes that are committed within the internet: credit card fraud, virus dissemination, software piracy, net extortion, phishing; spoofing, hacking, cyber impersonation, pornography and denial of service. All of these need strong laws and strong internet governance. Fortunately, the Cabinet developed a document that will be engaged on during this financial year. We hope this will bring discourse to the public and to Parliament to ensure that we are able to move our country in the right direction in terms of the laws.
With regard to persons with disability, the ICT sector generally is not performing well in meeting the 2% target of employing persons with disabilities. Building an inclusive information society also calls upon the ICT sector to ensure usage of sign language, subtitles and close caption in service provision and wish to urge all broadcasters to maintain the service.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, ICASA, recently organised an event, as the chair of the portfolio committee alluded to and we hope that those resolutions will then be engaged on and implemented.
Regarding the Small and medium enterprises, SMEs, youth and women in the ICT, we will continue to support youth and women businesses in ICT in accordance with the Preferential Procurement Policy, as part of the programme of our department and government. We will have to ensure that these sectors and the small and medium businesses are supported. We want to pride ourselves that women are now beginning to take leadership in our state-owned entities. The appointment of Ms Pinki Moholi, as the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Telkom is most welcoming. [Applause.] The Chairperson of Sapo, Ms Vuyo Mahlati and then the CEO Ms Motshonetsi Lefoka are also women in the leadership which need to be congratulated. [Applause.] Malibongwe! [Let it be praised!]
Tomorrow, 1 June 2011, marks the beginning of the last month of the implementation of Rica. We accordingly call upon all South Africans to register the details with the relevant mobile service providers. Failure to register will result in people being switch off, thus reducing the progress we have made to promote universal access to ICTs. Let me indicate upfront that 30 June 2011 is the D-day for all sim cards, be it for mobile phones, laptops or other devices. It also includes traffic lights, for those municipalities that are using the sim cards. No extension will be granted.
We have already met with the industry and we told them that there will not be any extension. Take it upon yourselves and go Rica.
Municipalities working with the South African Post Service will ensure that every household has a physical address. Our humble gratitude goes to municipalities that had begun implementing this project, together with the South African Post Office. We hope that all South Africans will end up having a postal address and a physical address in all municipalities. Currently, one of the challenges to Rica people is the fact that people don't have addresses.
In conclusion, I believe we are in agreement that as this generation of people, we have the responsibility to ensure universal access. I imagine each one of you in your retired age, being at home or in your retired villages. I imagine sitting under a tree or in your own private space, with our laptops, tablets, iPads and smart phones, chatting with each other, kilometres away rewinding and looking at prospects for future ICTs for our people.
I wish to thank the department staff, SOEs, civil society and industry players for welcoming me warmly when I was appointed in this portfolio. I am humbleb by the induction that you provided at that time.
Most of you have also realised that I wasn't and I am not in office. I have listened and will continue to listen to our councillors as we shape the sector.
I wish to thank my family, especially my wife, Constance Bapela, who is sitting in the gallery and who has recently been appointed as the Speaker of the biggest metropolitan council in South Africa - the City of Johannesburg. [Applause.] Working to together, we will build better livelihoods.
Ms A F MUTHAMBI / src / END OF TAKE
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS
Ms A F MUTHAMBI: Hon Chairperson, Minister and Deputy Minister of communications, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communications, hon Members of Parliament, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Ndi matsheloni, Avuxeni, Thobela. I thank this opportunity to share with fellow South Africans how the ANC-led government, as a principled leader of the process of fundamental change, has thus progressed in taking technology to the people in the service of people. It has fulfilled the ANC governance mandate as enshrined in the statement of the National Executive Committee of the ANC on its 99th anniversary.
It is evident that the ANC will continue to be an organisation that is respected and cherished by the masses of people for what it represents and how it conducts itself in actual practice. Hence we are all up in arms against all the ills that have the potential of undermining our organization lofty core values, which is serving the people. Therefore, the ANC-led government has put in structures, processes, cultures and systems that endanger the effective delivery of services to the society at large.
The ANC ascribes to the values and principles governing the public administration as provided for in section 195 of our Constitution. It is therefore non-negotiable that organs of state and public enterprises uphold this constitutional principle, promote and maintain high standards of professional ethics, promote efficient, economic and effective use of resources. Services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias. People's needs must be responded to. Public administration must be accountable and transparent to the public.
Therefore the ANC Election's Manifesto identified one of the key priorities areas, which is to fight against crime and corruption. This provision has been made solely to ensure that there is transparency; accountability; probity or fairness and respect for all the stakeholders of government in all our dealings as ANC-led government.
We are pleased to not that Minister has signed a performance agreement with the President. And, one of the key performance indicators the department is faced with is to ensure that there is improvement of oversight and monitoring of performance of its state-owned Enterprises; namely, SABC, Sentech, ICASA, USAASA, NEMISA, SAPO and the .za Domain Name.
We want to thank Dr Harold Wesso for his stalwart leadership during the period in which he was acting. Now the department has some tools in place with which it would be able to monitor the implementation of critical governance policies of the SOEs. All human resource policies and implementation must be annually reviewed and the outcomes of such be reported to the Minister. This applies to all the entities.
All benefits applicable to the management, in particular and staff in general must be reviewed annually and reports submitted to the Minister. The Boards are required to design for approval by the Minister Schemes for payment of bonuses for senior management and executive or variable payment schemes or schemes that recognize and reward good and excellent performance by senior managers.
The department is also expected to monitor performance and reinforcement of effectiveness of boards and board committees.
All approved policies and terms of reference governing the Constitution and the work of the boards and board committees must be reviewed on an annual basis and reports of such reviews must be submitted to the Minister. Prepared, approved and annually reviewed delegations of authority from the board to the executive must be submitted to the minister.
The other responsibility of the department is to enforcement the accountability in terms of the Public Finance Management Act. Each SOE must submit a projection of revenue expenditure and borrowings for the financial year and a corporate plan, timeously as required in terms of section 52 of the Public Finance Management Act. Each entity must submit annual reports and financial statements as required in terms of section 55 of the Public Finance Management Act.
The other responsibility of the department is the enforcement of financial reporting to the shareholder. In order to endeavour to strengthen accountability to the shareholder, the boards of SOEs must implement the following: They must ring-fence all the government allocated and project specific funds and report on a quarterly or monthly basis on progress towards attainment of key milestones.
They must submit on monthly basis reports of all transactions exceeding an amount of R10 million, together with an indication of appropriate approval obtained for the transactions in terms of delegations of authority. On a monthly basis the entities must report to the Minister on all acts of criminal conduct, irregular and wasteful expenditure together with their monetary values. They must also submit management letters issued by the Auditors-General, together with management response timeously to the Department of Communications.
Chairperson, the Department of Communications obtained a qualified audit opinion for the year ending on March 2010. The basis for the qualification was the irregular expenditure amounting to R8 501 000 and R15 701 000. In all instances payments were made in contravention of the supply chain management regulations.
A fruitless and wasteful expenditure to the amount of R54 000 was incurred due to interest on late payment of Telkom account, cancellation of trips and a duplicate payment for the same service provider.
There were elements of noncompliance with Public Finance Management Act. However, the committee noted the progress that was made under the stewardship of Dr Wesso in redressing all those issues. But what remains now is the task for the new Director-General to make sure that the transgressors of the Public Finance Management Act are brought to book.
The South African Post Office received a clean audit for the financial ear ended on 31 March 2010. This is an ideal governance model worth to be emulated. I would also like to congratulate them for the good work and say that they keep and maintain the good standard. [Applause.]
Sentech received a qualified audit opinion for the financial year ended on 31 March 2010. The basis of the qualification was that the Accounting Authority could not be able to confirm the fruitless and wasteful expenditure disclosed as R31 million, and the irregular expenditure disclosed as R14 million. This represented all fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
The Accounting Authority's report also raised the issue of the going concern. The accounting report further indicated that in the event that the DOC does not meet Sentech's request, there is significant doubt on the ability of Sentech to continue as a going concern. And therefore they may be unable to realise their assets and discharge their liabilities in the normal course of their business. There were issues of noncompliance with laws and regulations.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Accounting Authority of Sentech for commencing the business rescue proceedings and the progress this far is that the collection rate has improved drastically. The cash generating position is now strong and has improved significantly. The board is confident that Sentech will continue to function as a going concern.
The committee therefore still awaits the comprehensive report detailing steps and consequences management and the board has taken in relation to the fruitless, wasteful and irregular expenditure.
The Universal Service and access Agency of South Africa, USAASA, received a clean audit for the financial year ended on 31 March 2010 with emphasis of matters of a fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to R65 885, and a regular expenditure of R562 950.
The committee therefore still awaits the comprehensive report detailing the steps and consequences management and the board has taken in relation to fruitless, wasteful and irregular expenditure.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation, SABC, received an unqualified audit report for the financial year ended on 31 March 2010. [Interjections.] With several emphases, which amongst others were the going concern issues.
It is pleasing to note that the SABC turnaround strategy is bearing fruits of the corporation's desired outcomes. There is progress made thus far. All members of the board have complied with the disclosure requirement and the board is fully functional. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr N J J VAN DEN BERG///tfm/// END OF TAKE
Ms A F MUTHAMBI
Mnr N J VAN DEN BERG: Agb Voorsitter, agb Minister, Adjunkminister, aan almal wat nou nie Afrikaans verstaan nie, sê ek dat ek vandag my toespraak in Afrikaans gaan lewer. Ek wil graag met u gesels.
Ek wil vir u sê dat ek tot dusver my bedenkinge oor parlementêre debatte het.
Voordat ek verder gaan: U is al soveer keer vandag hier verwelkom dat u nou rêrig waar seker welkom voel in die vergadersaal.
Nee, ek het my bedenkinge oor parlementêre debatte, want dit lyk so al vir my asof mense nie na mekaar luister terwyl 'n debat aan die gang is nie. Maar, die indruk wat ek vandag hier gekry het was dat die gesprek onderling opbouend was. Die die ideë wat ek gekry het. Ek is eintlik bekommerd; ons is so nice met mekaar vandag, dit lyk vir my ons hou van mekaar, en daaroor is ek 'n klein bietjie bekommerd!
Maar, nietemin, ek wil graag die nuwe Minister en Adjunkminister geluk wens met dit wat hulle tot nou toe reggekry het, want, soos u weet, die ergste ding wat met jou kan gebeur as jy as 'n nuweling Parlement toe kom, is om lid van die Portefeuljekomitee vir Kommunikasie te word! Met die gemors wat aan die gang was by die SAUK en al die ander entiteite, is dit vandag nou eintlik vir my lekker dat ons nie met mekaar hoef te baklei nie, juis omdat die Departement van Kommunikasie so 'n integrale deel van elkeen van ons lewens is. Vandat ons vanmôre wakker geword het, hoe belangrik was kommunikasie nie tot op hede in ons lewens nie? Die telefone, die radio, die televisie, noem maar op...
Daarom is dit so belangrik dat kommunikasie in Suid-Afrika moet werk, want, lank nadat goud en diamante en steenkool klaar opgebruik is, dan moet ons ook nog ons kommunikasie hê waarmee ons kan woeker. Kyk maar na enige land wat werk aan sy kommunikasiestrukture. Die penetrasie wat die IT-bedryf byvoorbeeld in die samelewing het, beteken enorme groei in die bruto binnelandse produk. So daarom...
Die ANC is aan bewind in Suid-Afrika, maar ek dink dit is elkeen van ons se plig as Lede van die Parlement, om so hard as moontlik te werk om hierdie belangrike department op koers te hou.
Ek het nou die Minister en die Adjunkminister geluk gewens met hulle harde werk tot dusver. Wat vir my belangrik is, is dat, anders as in die verlede, die Minister en die Adjunkminister teenwoordig was. Hulle het tyd gemaak om te kom sit in die vergaderings van die Portefeuljekomitee vir Kommunikasie. Dankie Adjunkminister dat u en ook die Minister u program so gerig het, want dit is tog belangrik. In die verlede het 'n mens die indruk gekry dat, terwyl ons in die portefeuljekomitee oor belangrike sake praat, dis so al asof dit net by die ministerie verby gaan.
Dr Wesso, ek moet ook vir jou baie dankie sê. Ek het jou al in die portefeuljekomitee geluk gewens. Ek sal nooit u lang gesig die dag daar in die Marksgebou vergeet nie toe u gesê het, die Departement van Kommunikasie is 'n sinkende skip. Dr Wesso se woorde was,
The Department of Communications is in absolute disarray.
Dit was sy woorde gewees. Maar Dr Wesso, synde die waarnemende direkteur-generaal, het baie hard gewerk, natuurlik met die hulp van die res van die departement, om weer hierdie sinkende skip vlot te maak. Daar wag nog baie harde werk voor vir die nuwe direkteur-generaal van die departement, maar ek dink in elk geval die werk wat tot nou toe gedoen is, hierdie skip op die water gaan hou.
Daar is 'n paar sake wat ek nou net wil noem. Wat my 'n bietjie pla vandat ek nou in die Parlement gekom het, is dat daar vakatures in die Departement van Kommunikasie is. As my geheue nou nie met my parte speel nie, dink ek daar is 'n total van 116 poste vakant. Minister, dit kom nou al 'n paar jaar lank aan. Elke keer hoor ons dis as gevolg van herstrukturerings. Nou, ek dink 'n mens kan 'n tenkskip net soveel keer draai voordat jy in jouself vasry. So, ek dink ons moet nou 'n punt bereik waar mense aangestel moet word want werk moet gedoen word.
Daar is nog iets wat my pla, en dis die groot hoeveelheid mense in senior poste by die departement. 'n Mens kry so half die indruk dat daar te veel base in die Departement van Kommunikasie is en te min...
Mnr J H VAN DER MERWE: Hy's top heavy!
Mnr N J VAN DEN BERG: Ja, hy kantel so 'n bietjie, soos ek en Oom Koos partykeer, né!
Maar, nietemin, ons moet regtig waar indringend daarna kyk, want as 'n mens kyk na 116 mense wat nie agter hul lessenaars in die Departement van Kommunikasie se kantore sit nie, is dit ongelooflik baie! Ek is nou net bekommerd die departement loop dieselfde pad as wat die SAUK geloop het. Wat het die SAUK gedoen? Waar daar byvoorbeeld een baas was wat na hierdie mikrofoon omgesien het, is daar drie base aangestel. Nou kyk hulle na mekaar en daar is niemand wat weet hoe om die mikrofoon te werk nie. Dis my problem, agb Minister. Daaraan moet baie dringend aandag gegee word.
Ek is baie bly dat die besluit gemaak is oor die Europese Digitale Terrestriale Televisie-standaard, DDT. Ek is net baie jammer dat daar soveel water getrap is voordat die besluit gemaak is. Maar dit is nou weer politieke besluite van die verlede. Ek lê dit nie voor u deur nie, Minister. Dit is nou historiese feite, maar ek is bly die keuse is gemaak. Dis net jammer dat tyd verlore gegaan het en dat ons deur Brasilië moes hardloop om nou eintlik die Parlement se geld te mors. Dit was baie lekker en interresant in Brasilië, maar nietemin...
Ek wil vir u een ding vra, agb Minister, en dit is dat u nooit moet toelaat dat politici die SAUK beheer nie. Ek was in daardie dae by die SAUK. Dit was nie baie lekker om destyds oproepe te ontvang nie – nog destyds van Riaan Eksteen wat die direkteur-generaal was – en dan te hoor dat Oom PW se vrou iets gehoor het wat ek oor die draadloos sou gesê het. Dan was ek in verskriklike moeilikheid! Dit is die effek van politieke beheer in so 'n belangrike organisasie soos die SAUK.
Ek het gewerk in die aktualiteitsprogramme, waar jy elke dag verslag moes doen of iemand nie dalk per ongeluk iets leliks oor die Nasionale Party gesê het nie. Jy moes alles mooi fyn edit, want, as jy dit uitsaai, dan is jy in die moeilikheid. So, ek is seker daarvan ,Minister, dat ek baie vetroue in u het.
Mr I M OLLIS: Nothing has changed.
Mnr N J VAN DEN BERG: Ja, maar ek praat solank en doen solank voorbrand, agb Ollis.
Daar is 'n baie belangrike saak wat ek net onder u aandag wil bring. So van die SAUK gepraat, die toerusting word oud. Daar moet gereeld gekyk word na opgradering. So ook is Sentech se toerusting besig om oud te raak. As ons in hierdie nuwe omgewing in wil beweeg, moet ons sorg dat daar op 'n gereelde basis na toerusting omgesien word, en dat Sentech en die SAUK se wiele nie afval soos wat die geval is met Eskom nie.
Die poskantoor het vandag soveel komplimente gekry. Ek wil net vir die hoof uitvoerende beampte vra – en jy weet nou al wat ek gaan vra – waar is Toekomsrus se poskantoor? [Gelag.] Ek was nou die dag met die verkiesing daar, en die poskantoor is nog nie gebou nie. Gaan hy gebou word?
So, geagte vriende, die hoof uitvoerende beampte van die poskantoor het my belowe Toekomsrus se poskantoor is een van die dae gebou daar waar die ou poskantoor afgebrand het.
Baie dankie aan al ons kollegas wat lekker saam gewerk het. Ons het hier en daar baklei met mekaar. Dankie ook, Natasha. Ek wil vir jou sê jy is so vol moed, maar as jy so lank soos ek in hierdie portefeuljekomitee is, dan sal jy ook so 'n grys baard hê soos ek! Baie dankie, geagte vriende. Dis vir my 'n voorreg om Lid van die Parlement te wees, en natuurlik, om 'n lid van die DA te wees. Baie dankie.
Mrs S T NDABENI / nvs (Eng & Afr) / END OF TAKE
Mr N J VAN DEN BERG
Nksz S T NDABENI: Mhalingaphambili, maLungu eNdlu yoWiso-mthetho, neendwendwe ezisihambeleyo namhlanje, ndivumele ndikhahlele kwingqwele, inkonde utata uRholihlahla Nelson Mandela, omnye wamaxhego azinikelayo ekulweni inkululeko yeli lizwe. Ndivumeleni ndimqwenele impilo ende nemyoli ngelixa ehleli nosapho lwakhe eQunu.
Hon Chairperson, it is indeed a great honour to be part of the speakers in front of your good selves today. This is my maiden speech in this committee, so please be nice and generous with your time management. [Interjections.] Many studies have shown that in order for South Africa to be globally competitive and more effective as an efficiency-driven country, we need to improve rolling out of information and communications technology, ICT connectivity to schools, rural development and health centres to ensure that we have sufficient e-government services, ICT entrepreneurs, employees and employers require the knowledge-based global economy. Rural access to ICT has been highlighted as key in driving development.
The concept has been debated at the international level by multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, United Nations, and the International Monitory Fund, etc. Key gatherings have included the G-8 Summit in Okinawa, the World Summit on the information society and regional conferences on digital integration. The establishment of several global initiatives are attempts to sensitise the international community to plight of millions of people around the world who have been excluded from the benefits of the information society.
It is argued that rural access to ICT boosts production, improves household income, reduces inequalities and widens market options. It is seen as a way of reaching out to those that would be excluded from the developmental benefits of ICT. A universal access fund is one mechanism for motivating and mobilising private investment into rural areas through subsidies and incentives under a free market telecommunication sector so that services are extended to disadvantaged areas and people.
It was here in this very building, where the convergence of ICT was developed when Parliament passed the Electronic Communications Act, Act 35 of 2005. It remains an unchanged venue where President Zuma's states of the nation address, in particular, for the communication sector. priorities, has been an indication of an urgent need to increase investment in the second economy through reducing the cost of doing business in the country in order to bridge the digital divide and narrow the gap between the rich and the poor through empowering, in particular, underprivileged and underserviced communities with the necessary ICT skills and to convert the current analogue of broadcasting of television and radio to digital platforms. With regard to lowering the cost of doing business in the country, the President's speeches have acknowledged the strides made to intensify the liberalization of the telecommunication sector through the establishment of a second national operator, Neotel.
There have been several announcements regarding bold ICT interventions that have been made during the state of the nation address over the past financial years. These include the following: one, the finalisation of plans by mobile telephone companies and Telkom to address call termination rates for the benefit of the consumers. This call termination rates refers to the cost of making a call from one service provider to another telephone company; two, the setting up of a call centre through which prospective investors and government could track process in respect of land acquisition, infrastructure and environmental impact assessment; three, the allocation of fund to Sentech for the digital migration process and provision of the national wireless broadband network infrastructure in rural and underserviced areas; four, the allocation of universal services access agency of South Africa for ensuring that the country has 100% coverage by 2020. Lastly, provision of 5 million set top boxes to the indigent communities in the country and the completion of the process of launching the undersea cables for developing high speed international broadband capacity.
All these initiatives have been developed in a bid to lower the cost of doing business in the country in order to attract investment that will provide sustainable opportunities to uplift the poor and marginalised communities. Furthermore, they were developed to ensure that the country's business and industries are internationally competitive.
Before the attainment of democracy 17 years ago, over time, the people of this nation waged a long and sometimes bloody struggle to expand and secure their freedom from the crown. Some of the battles which were emotionally-driven by both the former colonial unjust structures and an awful life lived under the apartheid regime. However, propelled by the ideas of the enlightenment, they ultimately forge a Freedom Charter and invest their time and future aspirations to the nonsexist, nonracist, nontribal and oldest liberation movement in the continent to govern and lead the country into the shared vision.
Today, after a difficult four decades that begin with racial divide and ended with joyful democracy celebration progressed firm despite the recession. Our nation has arrived at a pivotal moment once more.
A global economy that one stood on the brink of depression is now stable and recovering. But as we enter this chapter in our shared history, profound challenges stretch before us and this include bringing stability to the public broadcaster widening its footprint coverage and the need to ensure that the regulator monitors compliance which bring about ICT devices that are mindful of the people living with disabilities. In a world where the prosperity of all nations is now in inextricable linked, a new era of co-operation is required to ensure the growth and stability of the global economy, especially in the ICT sector.
As the ICT revolution races through the streets of the Middle East and North Africa, the entire world has a stake in the aspirations of a generation that longs to determine its own destiny. To this end, the Meraka institute and the National Electronic Media Institute of SA, Nemisa, are in the process of finalising a memorandum of understanding in order to train students to be employment ready and to develop a curriculum with institutions of higher learning with a view to ultimately expand it as a faculty of ICT at universities.
These ICTs opportunities come at a time when the international order has already been reshaped for a new century. Countries like China, India and Brazil which South Africa is a member -we are talking to the BRICS here – are growing by leaps and bounds. In this regard, gone are the days when Roosevelt and Churchill could sit in a room and solve the world's problems over a glass of brandy, though I'm sure, of the opposition parties who would agree that some days we could both use a stiff drink. In this century though, our joint leadership will require building new partnerships, adapting to new circumstances, and remarking ourselves to meet the demands of a new era and this begins with driving our economic leadership in the ICT sector.
According to the new growth path, infrastructure development can create 25000 jobs a year in energy, water, communications and infrastructure through to 2015. An adequate communication environment provides the backbone for a modern economy thereby expanding the infrastructure that will help reduce communication costs. It is critical to improve infrastructure in the former Bantustan - not because I come from one of them – which continues to suffer from backlogs in households' services transport and communications. Notwithstanding urbanisation, the rural population remains large and engaged in the rural economy. Government through the Postbank is therefore trying to improve telecommunications and internet connectivity to provide financial services across the country.
To this regard, the department and its entities will appear before the committee to outline their direct and indirect job creation. We cannot take joy when the giants of this industry refuse or take time to comply with the regulations we make. This delay whether deliberate or not, poses a challenge to what we want to achieve as this Parliament and the country. When the ANC took a decision that it is high time that ownership and transformation of our industry takes centre stage, it was not because we wanted votes but we wanted to ensure that all people benefit and contribute effectively to the economic development and improvement of services. [Appluase.]
Besele ndiza kuzicelela.
As tata Mandela has said: "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered" The ANC has adopted very good policies and that has been confirmed by the majority of this country through the previous elections. It is for this reason that we urged the Department of Communications to do what is expected of them. It must exercise its authority to ensure that all role players in the industry adhere to what government requires. An activist department requires clear leadership, competent staff that is well-resourced.
I hope that as we have filled in the position of the director-general, you are also going to fill urgently in the other critical positions. This will therefore assist the department in improving its co-ordination over its entities. When we nominated people to fill in the SABC board vacancies, we were clear that we want to see a speedy recovery and effective change in SABC which has a critical role to play with regard to informing our people.
I must congratulate the existing board members for holding the fort when this institution experienced some handicap. SABC is not perfect but we hope that with the turn around strategy presented to Parliament, things are going to improve. This requires provision of clear leadership and dedicated personnel as the document alone will not deliver the results. We have taken a conscious decision to monitor effectively the implementation of the goals that you set for yourselves so as to ensure that the money we allocate indeed delivers the required service.
The low-rate of females and young people in top management positions in this sector is a course for concern. As the ANC, in the portfolio committee, we want to ensure all of you that we will force u to improve this condition. It cannot be that a woman of 23 years old is able to take care of her 40 years old husband but cannot be recognised as a capable person until fight is waged. SABC is the most male dominated institution at the top management level and as the portfolio committee, we will not approve any structure that does nor seek to address that. We hope that the Department of Communication, DoC, will lead by example in the matter.
For this sector to effectively deliver on its targets, a huge budget is required. The capacity of SABC to deliver on its public broadcasting mandate and inform or drive the agenda of the public needs an increase in the budget. Of course this will not be done out of thumb sucking but through a presentation of a clear plan and dedicated efforts by the current leadership in SABC. We need also to revisit the Media Development and Diversity Agency, MDDA, funding model to ensure that it talks to the effective and efficient service that is enjoyed by all those in need. We appreciate the efforts put by Sentech leadership in addressing the challenges that faced the organisation. These include low staff moral, poor project management methodologies, neglect and under investment in the broadcasting and radio network.
Whilst we can play politics as politicians, we must ensure that service delivery to our communities is not affected. I appreciate the fact that even our opposition parties in the portfolio committee understand why the ANC had to deploy the Minister in the department, Dr Ngubane, in SABC and the others that we have put in the board- you've had them here confirming and appreciating the leadership that has been provided.
In conclusion, I would like to sincerely thank the Minister and his department, the chairpersons of boards and their management, portfolio committee members for their effective contribution towards building a better South Africa. Not forgetting council Leah Khumalo and Dr Veso as well as Mr Nicholson for compatriotic efforts of ensuring that they perform the duties that were temporary assigned to them. Indeed, you have made us proud. [Interjections.]
The ANC supports the Budget. [ Applause.]
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS / Nb/ END OF TAKE
Ms S T NDABENI
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Mr Speaker, I thought you were going to say, and deployed elder. Thank you very much.
Firstly hon members, let me express our great appreciation to all the contributors who have spoken in the debate today; I think they have all made some absolutely important points that have driven home the message. One of the most fascinating things that has come out of this debate is the concurrence that all the political parties have in echoing the sentiments the hon van Den Berg stated in his contribution to the debate.
He highlighted for us the absolute importance of communications in the everyday life of our people. It brings right to the centre of the central theme of this debate; that is, it is not technology for the sake of technology, but that it is technology for the enhancement and the improvement of the lives of the people. I think that has been the most powerful message that has come out of this debate. How we can find concurrence with each other, notwithstanding the fact that we may come from different trajectories around one single common viewpoint, that is, how do we best serve the interest of the people.
Hon Kholwane, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, I think is justified in drawing our special attention to the absolute importance of the regulator in all of this work. He calls upon us to make sure that there are enough resources that must be mobilised to empower the regulator to do its job properly. I think there is also great unanimity in the speakers in reminding us that the public broadcaster is, perhaps, one of the most important institutions in our society today and the caution that the public broadcaster is not a State broadcaster is most certainly welcome.
I thought that it was quite funny that hon van Den Berg should say: never let a politician manage the SABC, and yet it is you, the politician, that gives us the managers for the SABC and we work with what you give us. The review of the broadcasting policy landscape is an important initiative; it must take us into those terrains and into understanding this instrument of social cohesion in our evolving democracy.
Hon SC van der Merwe has left the House - and I will have to swing back to Zondi when we think about those international visits. Let me take this opportunity and say that the SABC remains a critical focus for us. We have made significant strides in stabilising the corporation and this is acknowledged by all the speakers. We are appreciative of the leadership of the board and the executive leadership on the corporative and, particularly, of the leadership of Dr Ben Ngubane.
I am aware that in a short while, on his return from Libya, the President will announce the appointment of the remaining four members of the SABC Board, with the announcement, as to who would be the Deputy Chair. The SABC Board informs me that within a couple of weeks, they will be entering into the process of finalising of the selection of the Chief Executive Officer for the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
On the question of the most important project – that all the members agreed on - which is the implementation of the Digital Migration Programme; every speaker highlighted the absolute importance that we must meet the 2013 deadline. It is clear that we are remaining very confident that we are on track and that we have the enthusiastic participation of all the state owned entities to precisely achieve that.
We are told that a successful trial, conducted by broadcasters and the senior distributor has demonstrated that South Africa is ready with the process of migrating from analogue, Terrestrial Television to Digital Terrestrial Television, DTT. Substantive work has been done by all the parties concerned; for the first time, we have now an implementation plan that has been constructed by the private sector together with the public entities of the department. My office has determined that we shall establish a special implementation office to drive the DTT programme. It is a project that will have about 30 strong people on it, totally focused on driving the DTT programme.
We are indeed very encouraged by the fact that we have received all this support from the parties and speakers concerned. We want to say, thank you very much and we wish you all a very good year. I thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr FROLICK): Thank you hon Minister, members are reminded that the EPC on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will meet at the Good Hope Chamber at 14:00 PM and the EPC on Health will also meet at 14:00 PM at this venue.
The Committee rose at 12:00
LIM... / END OF TAKE
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