ATC160209: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services on the oversight visit to Limpopo from 14 to 18 September 2015, dated 10 November 2015
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services on the oversight visit to Limpopo from 14 to 18 September 2015, dated 10 November 2015
Human development is closely associated with the ability to communicate and to create and distribute new knowledge. In this regard, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) expand opportunities to communicate information and to build knowledge through a range of innovations that have significantly reduced the cost of communication, both over a distance (using inter alia fixed, wireless and satellite communication networks) as well as through activities involved in handling information through a multiplicity of applications and systems. A research by Statistics South Africa, noted ‘the impact of ICT on society have become very apparent as technological innovations have become part of everyday life.
The National Development Plan (NDP) envisions that “ICT will continue to reduce spatial exclusion, enabling seamless participation by the majority in the global ICT system, not simply as users but as content developers and application innovators.” In so doing, ICT will increasingly form the bedrock of “a dynamic and connected vibrant information society and a knowledge economy that is more inclusive, equitable and prosperous”.
A number of studies have pointed to a strong positive relationship between technological uptake and development in communities and therefore countries. As long ago as 2001, the United Nations’ Human Development Report asserted that ‘technological change accounts for a large portion of differences in growth rates’ (between countries) and that technology, in particular ICT, could enable development. More recently a World Bank research found that a country could increase economic growth by 1.4 per cent for every 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration. The ability to compete internationally is, however, dependent on the state of, use and access to the ICT sector.
The recent oversight visit by the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services (the Committee) to Limpopo province was in line with its role and the mandate as per (i) the Constitution and (ii) and the National Assembly Rules. The oversight visit served as the measurement indicator against the service delivery commitment of the Committee in terms of the Strategic Plans and Annual Financial Statements of the Department and its entities.
The Committee’s oversight approach entailed visiting various projects implemented by entities such as Sentech, South African Post Office (SAPO), Universal Service Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) and Telkom to monitor and oversee the implementation of key national priorities which underpin the NDP. Visits and meetings with traditional leaders on matters relating to Telecoms Infrastructure were facilitated by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) within the province of Limpopo. The Committee investigated the current status in respect of ICT service delivery by its entities. The accessibility, affordability and universal availability of ICT services ensure that government fulfils Section 16 of the Constitution which, amongst others, stipulates that everyone has a right to impart and receive information and this has been interpreted to be defined as the means by which access is made possible.
To this end, the areas of focus of the oversight visit of the Committee were as follows:
- evaluate the state of Internet connectivity to schools which were rolled out by both operators and State-Owned Companies (SOCs) in line with the 2003 White Paper on e-education which aimed at ensuring that all 24 000 public schools have Internet connectivity by 2013;
- evaluate the state of e-health in telemedicine centres in rural areas which aims to connect all public health centres as per the NDP and South Africa Connect, which is a Broadband policy;
- conduct oversight over USAASA’s Broadband initiative which aims to connect the whole community of Mutale Local Municipality, connect 17 clinics, connect 10 schools and schools for people with disabilities;
- conduct oversight over the broadcasting sector (Television and Radio) strictly on the state of signal distribution in the province, especially remote areas;
- conduct oversight over the state of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) readiness in transmitting analogue to digital broadcasters to signal distribution towers which are in the borders to ensure non-interferences or spill-over of signal distribution to neighbouring countries;
- conduct visits to network sites by Sentech which are aimed at the upgrading of rural networks of South African Police Service (SAPS) to ensure delivery of e-government;
- conduct site visits in each town (some unannounced) with the South African Post Office on governance matters and audit and labour issues, as well as on the status of Postbank corporatisation; and
- consult with various traditional leaders to explore their concerns and obtain feedback in respect of ICT connectivity and the functioning of SAPO.
- COMMITTEE DELEGATION
- The delegation from the Portfolio Committee would comprise five (5) members and four (4) support staff.
Hon M T Kubayi
Chairperson and Leader of the delegation
African National Congress (ANC)
Hon N Ndongeni
Member of the Committee
Hon D R Tsotetsi
Member of the Committee
Hon E Siwela
Member of the Committee
Member of the Committee
Democratic Alliance (DA)
Hon V Kathabahle
Member of the Committee
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)
Ms H Salie
Ms S Goba
Mr S Nene
Mr J Malafo
2.2 The Committee received apologies for non-attendance from the following members:
- Ms L M Maseko - African National Congress (ANC)
- Ms M V Mafolo - ANC
- Ms J D Kilian - ANC - Alternate Member
- Ms M R Shinn - Democratic Alliance (DA)
- Day ONE: 15 september 2015: Visit to MALAMULELE AND GIYANI
- Visit with Traditional Authorities at Mhinga Village
The Committee met with the Hosi (chief) Mhinga of the Mhinga village in the Malamulele district. The Mhinga community has over 75 000 people and was considered as one of the 8 rural points of local development within the Malamulele District. Preparations are underway for the construction of overseas major hotels to begin within the community and town planners have already been appointed. These development plans for the Mhinga village have however been hampered by problems of connectivity within the area.
- There are 5 Telkom towers within the Mhinga area, although the community still experienced problems in respect of lack of radio and television signal.
- Mhinga tribal authority does not have landline telephones and experience challenges with Internet access.
- Mhinga village has 15 primary schools and 5 high schools. The schools that have been connected with computers are unable to function due to lack of connectivity in the area.
- The village has serious challenges in respect of its people making calls to clinics and police stations and that communication was in general a challenge.
- Sentech launched a low transmitter power site in 2012. However, the village is still experiencing poor or no area coverage of regional and local radio stations in some areas. A challenge of communities having to listen to radio stations in a language that they do not understand, was noted.
- The Committee noted that whilst Sentech rented and paid Telkom for the tower space, however, Telkom was not paying anything to Mhinga tribal authority, which is contrary to the norms when an operator pays for the land which it uses to erect its base stations/tower;
- The Committee noted that Sentech was barred from entering the Telkom site which it rented after-hours which means that if there are signal distribution connection problems during the day, communities were subjected to a situation where they should wait until the next morning when Sentech is allowed to enter the tower/base station site
- The Committee visited the public library within the Mhinga tribal authority which had four computers which were not functioning.
- The Committee visited the Postal Retail Agency within the tribal authority and noted that there was no branding for the outlet, no teller, no uniform, bicycle or postman who delivers mail to the village and that in Mhinga had converted an Expanded Public Work Programme (EPWP) beneficiary to work at this Post Office. The person who was employed by SAPO had left due to non-payment of salary.
- The Committee noted that Sentech has an obligation to ensure proper and continuous monitoring of its work.
- Recommendations of the Committee
- The Committee recommended that Minister ensure that Sentech interact with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to solve the issue of incorrect frequencies received by the people of the village.
- The Committee also visited a Postal Retail Agency of SAPO in Mhinga village and recommended that SAPO investigates possibilities of extending services at this retail agency, that signage and uniforms be allocated and that the issue of non-payment of a stipend to the only staff member be addressed.
- Payment for space rental fees are to be made to the tribal authority.
- The Committee recommended that Sentech interact with Telkom to solve the issue of ‘facility-sharing commercial agreement’ which the Committee was told that the amount charged by Telkom was too excessive
- Site visit with Xikundu Secondary School in Xikundu village
The Committee met with the principal and teachers of the Xikundu Secondary School in Xikundu village to investigate schools connectivity. The school had a computer laboratory with 20 computers donated as part of the 2010 Soccer World Cup legacy project. These computers were installed by Telkom in 2014 and the school has access to Wi-Fi. The computer laboratory has been subjected to vandalism and theft. As a safekeeping measure staff have been forced to take a laptop home and return it to school the next day.
- The Committee was concerned about the speed at which the VSAT satellite Internet connection was installed by Telkom. The download speed took the entire class period with an average estimated speed of 40 kbps.
- The Committee noted that Telkom has a responsibility to maintain its installation projects and also to provide adequate training to teaching staff.
- The Committee noted that Telkom deployed old infrastructure in the area.
3.2.2. Recommendations of the Committee
- The Committee recommended that the Minister ensures that the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Service should conduct an audit of all (1685) school’s Internet connectivity beneficiaries of the 2010 World Cup Legacy project and report to the Committee
- Site visit to SAPO at Malamulele
The Committee conducted a site visit to a SAPO at Malamulele. This post office serves a customer base of 300 to 900 people per day. It serves a community in extent of 21 800 people. The number of people serviced is way above the Universal Postal Union’s regulation that there must 1 postal outlet for every 10 000 population or 1: 5 kilometres. The staff compliment consists of 7 staff members which consist of a branch manager, one chief teller, and 5 tellers. The post office was operating with 3 tellers as two vacant posts have not been filled. It offers a full range of products which include the selling of airtime, issuing of licences and stamps and also offer Postbank banking services.
- The Committee observed that vacant posts within the post office should be filled as soon as possible.
- People using the post office are faced with long queues and that the time frame of 7 minutes to ensure customers are served was not met.
- The Committee was concerned about the non-payment of retail agency staff.
- The Committee observed that there was a lack of security within the surrounds of the post office.
- The Committee observed that the Postbank services are often not reliable, with the post office having insufficient funds to support this service; and
- The Committee observed that the ladies toilet for employees was not in working order and females were forced to share males toilet.
3.3.2 Recommendations of the Committee
The Committee recommended that SAPO should urgently deal with issues of non-payment of staff especially the postal delivery section and also ensure that the branch is managed effectively.
- Site visit to Malamulele Community Radio
The Committee conducted a site visit to the Malamulele community radio station. The radio station claimed to have a listenership of more than 400 000 people and covers Malamulele, part of Polokwane and some areas within Zimbabwe. The community radio station consists of 2 studios and covers local content in respect of community issues. The operational costs of the station comes predominantly from advertising and the assistance of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA). The local authority does not support the radio station, financially for services rendered.
- The Committee noted that the radio station at times experience problems with its signal installed by Sentech, which make it difficult to broadcast.
- It was later discovered that the community radio station has in fact misrepresented their listenership figures to the Committee
3.4.2 Recommendations of the Committee
- The Committee recommended that the Minister ensure that Sentech should audit the station’s signal in the wake of the claim by the radio station of having listeners who are outside the borders of the province and the country in line with their licence. The Committee viewed this claim as a contravention of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) African Telecommunication Union (ATU) SADC Protocols which stipulates that country should avoid signal distribution spill-over.
- Site visit to Giyani Nursing College
The Committee visited a computer laboratory connected by Mobile Telephone Network (MTN) at the Giyani Nursing College. The computer laboratory was connected in respect of MTN’s schools connectivity commitment to rural areas. However, the College was connected by MTN Foundation, not as part of the licence condition of MTN. The nursing college was already in possession of computers and MTN provided Wi-Fi, screens, printer and compujector. The compujector was donated to the college in 2014 at a cost of over R 1 million. It has special programmes installed to assist its nursing students with subjects such as anatomy and physiology. It provides 3D unlimited content and allows lecturers to add and change text and videos as they conduct lectures. Various topics was digitised and lectures allow for simulation and interactive participation of students. There was also provision made for video lectures and MTN would in future assist with the digitisation of the curriculum of the nursing staff. In addition, MTN has also assisted with renovations of the computer laboratory and the boardroom of the nursing college.
- The Committee noted that the faculty at the nursing college was under the MTN foundation which is not within the licence obligation.
- The simulation lab can enhance the interest in nursing studies and should be spread to other provinces.
3.6 Site visit to Giyani Radio Station
The Committee conducted a site visit to the Giyani community radio station and met with management and staff. The radio station has a listenership of more than 125 000 and is considered the second most popular community radio station in the region. The community radio station consists of 3 studios and covers local content in respect of community issues. The radio station is been voted the best station providing traditional music to the community.
The operational costs of the station comes predominantly from advertising. Funding assistance was received from MDDA in the amount of R 1, 5 million.
The Committee was informed that Sentech was in the process of upgrading a transmitter within the Giyani district. The challenge experienced by the station is the delayed turnaround time in which Sentech respond to problems. The Committee was informed that the approximate time of response by Sentech was 12 hours which negatively affects the broadcasting.
- The Committee observed the professional manner in which the station was run and the staff was knowledgeable in respect of their work.
- The Committee noted that the station was in dire need of funding and would need further financial assistance form MDDA, local business and municipalities within the region.
- The Committee observed that the station is responsible for content training of its disc jockeys.
- The Committee was informed that the station owes Telkom outstanding fees for telephone in the amount of R 150 000. A representative from Telkom noted that the condition of the contract would be scrutinised and further investigated. Emanating from this investigation, Telkom would determine how the station could be assisted.
3.6.2 Recommendations of the Committee
- The Committee recommended that the community radio station utilise the training provided by Nemisa Skills Development Institute to supplement its training programme.
- The Committee recommended that government institutions should support the future development of community radio stations by advertising on these platforms and noted that it would engage in GCIS in this regard.
- The community radio station to engage the municipality for advertising support in respect of revenue generation.
- Telkom to meet with management to look at costs of phone bill of the radio station.
- Sentech to improve their response time on signal restoration.
- Day TWO: 16 september 2015: Visit to BROADBAND SITES CONNECTED BY USAASA
- Visit to Mutale Local Municipality on its connectivity of broadband sites
The Committee was briefed by Mutale councillors and the relevant stakeholders in respect of its connectivity of broadband to the Mutale Local Municipality. USAASA is in the process of completing 563 sites in respect of broadband connectivity within the region by 2015/2016 financial year.
The Committee was welcomed by the mayor of Mutale Local Municipality who indicated that the municipal area of Mutale requires the essential service of broadband connectivity for its community. The Chief Executive Officer of USAASA Mr Zami Nkosi informed the Committee that the Mutale Local Municipality was highly underserviced. USAASA has identified this municipality as one of its project sites as part of their broadband rollout mandate. USAASA has undertaken various upgrades in respect of infrastructure of the Mutale region since it started the project on 1 April 2015.
The work of USAASA was conducted in three phases and five towers have been created and set up. These included bachall infrastructure which have been completed, civil work and sites have been connected and linked. The second phase is the installation of the repeater and third phase deals with the final connectivity. This work will be completed by end of September 2015. USAASA also promotes black economic empowerment business in line with the reconstruction and development programme. To date, USAASA has connected 17 clinics, 1 police station and a school serving pupils with disability within the municipal area of Mutale. USAASA intends to ensure that every project to be a free Wi-Fi hotspot and connect the municipality building.
The Committee was informed that a draft terms of reference has been developed and a steering committee would be established on a provincial level consisting of various representatives of provincial departments. Task teams would also have to be established within the various Districts. A representative of the Traditional Council indicated that they donated land to the project in terms of structure and noted that there was need to improve connectivity within the community of Mutale.
The Committee was supposed to receive a report on broadband rollout in line with the President’s pronouncement during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2015, within the Vhembe district. Unfortunately, the lead official from DTPS never arrived and the Committee did not receive any briefings in this regard.
- The Committee expressed concern that the relevant broadband steering committees have not been established as yet. The Committee noted that there was an expectation that steering committees needed to be established by end July 2015 as per the announcement of the President.
- The Committee also expressed concern that the Chief Director within DTPS, who was responsible for the project, was not at the meeting. He had sent an apology that he got lost on his way to meeting with the Committee. The Committee noted that it sends a message that the Chief Director is not serious about the work within the municipality.
- The Committee however commended the work done by USAASA in respect of its projects and noted that a follow up will be made to ensure that the Mutale Local Municipality is fully connected within the specified time.
- The Committee noted that each Tribal Council would be connected by WiFi where previously there was none at the Chiefs Kraal. This was part of the arrangement between USAASA and the local tribal authorities.
The Committee then proceeded to conduct an on-site visit to Tshikunda Malema Towers and Muswodi Towers connected by USAASA, as part of their broadband rollout in the Mutale local municipality.
4.1.2 Recommendations of the Committee
- The Committee requested DTPS to provide a list of steering committees established nationally.
- The Committee requested DTPS to submit its broadband rollout plan which would be interrogated during the BRRR process to be conducted by Parliament in October 2015
- Site Visit to broadband site at Tshikunda Malema Towers
The Committee conducted a site visit to the Tshikunda Malema Towers which was connected by USAASA and is situated within the district of the Mutale Local Municipality.
The tower is 15 metres high and consists of 4 antennas called microwaves, which are responsible for beaming out signals. Each antenna covers 180 degrees over a radius of 45 kilometre and has a Customer- premises equipment (CPE) driven network. The tower is purely fed by solar energy with WI-FI included on every site. The tower is connected within the standards required by SA Connect.
The project will be completed by end September 2015 and it is envisaged that the sites would be fully connected by that time.
USAASA has to date fully switched on projects in the Northern Cape and the North West Province which are fully operational.
The Committee was informed that the land on which the site is situated was donated by the traditional leaders who will in turn gain free access to broadband due to this allocation of land.
- The Committee observed that there were two towers on the site. The Committee was informed that in order to rent space on the major site was expensive and therefore it was more cost effective to set up an individual tower, as was done in this instance. The project costs R 35 million of which R 23 million was provided by USAASA to the service provider (MENG) as part of it promotion and development of SMMEs.
- The Committee noted that there is a need to ensure that the same quality of services are supplied to rural areas as is the case in the affluent urban areas.
- Site visit to broadband site at Muswodi Site
The Committee conducted a site visit to the Muswodi Site which is one of four sites that receives the signals submitted from the Tshikunda Malema Towers. The other three sites include the Tshipise site, Makuga site and Thengwe.Tshilamba site.
The site has been quality tested and has 99, 9 percent uptime. It has also been tested to withstand severe weather conditions.
- The Committee observed that USAASA was forced to establish its own site, due to the high costs of renting from others.
- The Committee recommended that the issue of infrastructure sharing would have to be addressed in order to avoid duplication of infrastructure and waste of limited resources.
4.3.2. Recommendations of the Committee
- The Committee recommended that Department and ICASA should enforce the facility sharing policy and regulations in order to avoid duplication of ICT infrastructure as the Committee experience with Muswodi and Tshikunda Malema towers.
- Site visit to SAPO at Nongamane
The Committee conducted a site visit to SAPO at Nongamane. This post office has a customer base of 60 people per day. The staff compliment consists of a branch manager, one full time teller and one part time teller. It offers a full range of products which include the selling of airtime, stamps, lotto services and also offer Postbank banking services. This is a full service post office and the delivery output was high in this area with 300 to 700 letters delivered per day. The Committee was informed that the delivery of mail stretches over five villages and that one female staffer is responsible for the sorting and delivery to these villagers.
- The Committee observed that the non-payment of staff was of great concern at this post office. The Committee was informed that the female staff member responsible for sorting and delivery of mail was not paid for almost 13 months. The Committee engaged with the staff member who informed them that the reason given for non-payment was the improper capturing of her details in the payment system. A second staff member was not paid for more than 4 months and left the employ of SAPO.
- The Committee observed that there was a lack of security and that the strong room at the retail office was bombed. A donation of 10 computers were made to the post office in 2001. However, these computers could not be stored on the premises, due to the lack of security. The Board Chairperson of the Telecentre had stored the computers at his home as a consequence of attempted theft and vandalism there is no evidence whether the computers exists and or are still in working order to date
- The Committee observed that the Postbank banking services are often not reliable, with the post office running out of money to support this service, almost twice a week.
- The Committee noted that the relevant official from the regional office was not present to provide answers to the Committee, despite being informed of the need to be present.
4.4.2. Recommendations of the Committee
- The Committee recommended that there should be greater support given to post offices in rural areas by the regional manager, area manager within the region and head office.
- The Committee intervened in respect of the non-payment of staff and requested that SAPO management should provide a detailed report and also indicate the action taken against supervisors who failed to ensure that staff was paid. This report to be submitted to the Committee.
- Day THREE: 17 SEPTEMBER: VISIT TO SENTECH SITES
- Visit with Riba Tribal Authority at Burgersfort
The Committee intended to meet with Kgosi Riba of the Riba Tribal Authority in Ga-Riba. However, when the Committee arrived at the venue, the Kgosi was not present. As a consequence, the stakeholder meeting that the Committee intended to partake in, was not conducted.
The Committee however, met with representatives of the Kgosi Riba.
- The Committee engaged with the representative of Kgosi Riba who informed them that the reason for Kgosi’s non-attendance was because she had not been informed of the Committee’s visit. However, it later emerged that she was informed but it would appear that she chose not to attend.
- The Committee was informed that there is no Cell C and Vodacom coverage and there is only MTN 2G;
- The Committee was informed that due to repeated crime in the area, SAPO had informed them of their intention to move out of Burgersfort to Lebowakgomo, which was going to disadvantage local communities who requires its services. In addition SAPO had already begun cutting down its service offerings to the community;
- The Committee was informed that during the financial year, Vodacom through the provincial Department rural development and agriculture came and promised to put up a base station but the process had not yet started;
- There was no Resource Planning Appropriation (RPA) that serves the community through the tribal authority;
- The Tribal Authority Council does not have Internet, fax, telephones and people in the area are subjected to walk long distances in order to report, crimes and or seek emergency services.
- The Committee was informed that the community recommended that instead of moving out of Burgersfort, SAPO would be allocated a secured space at River Village Multipurpose Centre as it has a 24 hours security.
5.1.2 Recommendations of the Committee
- ICASA be requested to do an assessment of its services in the area.
- SAPO to ensure that it looks at recommendations by community leaders.
- Site Visit to Sentech school project at Ntepane Primary School
The Committee conducted a site visit to the Corporate Social Investment (CSI) computer laboratory at Ntepane Primary School in GaRiba. The principal of the school informed the Committee that the CSI laboratory was donated by Sentech in 2014 and consists of 20 computers with an additional 2 computers for office use. To date, 10 computers lined against the walls of the laboratory are connected. The 10 computers on the inside of the laboratory were not connected. The company appointed by Sentech to install electrical connections had not completed such installation. At the same time, the company had been paid in full before the completion of the project by Sentech which is in contravention of the PFMA.
The company subsequently declared bankruptcy after full payment had been issued by Sentech to the company.
The Committee was also informed of a feud within the community with some members of the community refusing to allow Sentech access to enter the community premises. The situation was currently being resolved, although the feud has impacted the work of Sentech. A councillor within the community noted Sentech was only refused access after the service provider failed to complete work by June 2014.
The councillor also further requested that the CSI laboratory be used by the community members and not only be confined to the use of school pupils.
- The Committee noted with concern that Sentech paid for the services of the electrical contractor in full before the work was completed.
- The Committee noted that the decision to allow community members access to CSI projects would rest within the authority of the principal and school governing body.
5.2.2 Recommendations of the Committee
- The Committee recommended that proper monitoring should have taken place by Sentech in respect of the completion of the work by its electrical contractor at its CSI laboratory.
- The Committee recommended a practical, interim solution to the current problem and suggested that extension cords be allocated to the CSI laboratory to ensure that all computers are connected.
- The Committee requested further information in respect of the contract agreement entered into between Sentech and the contractor.
- Site visit to SAPO at Burgersfort
The Committee conducted an unannounced site visit to a SAPO branch at Burgersfort. This post office has a staff compliment of 11 members with the post of a cleaner being vacant. It is a full service post office and offers a full range of products. It however, does not provide speed services. There is one retail postal agency which offer postal services when postal activities are too low to justify a fully-fledged post office branch. The retail agency has one staff member who delivers letters per foot to one mine in the area and are paid according to the number of letters delivered. Parcels are not delivered by the retail agency staffer and have to be collected at the post office. The delivery output was high in this area and the delivery of mail stretches within a 20 kilometre radius of Burgersfort.
- The Committee observed that the post office experienced problems with adequate space, the television screen within the post office aimed at promoting advertising was not working, there was lack of clear signage as some signage boards within the post office were lying down are were not fixed.
- The Committee noted that this was a well-managed branch and that management was knowledgeable in respect of the requirements to run the branch.
5.3.2 Recommendations of the Committee
- The Committee recommended that the vacant post of the cleaner should be filled.
- The Committee further recommended that a solution be found to the space problem experienced at the branch.
- Site visit to SAPO at Driekop
The Committee conducted an unannounced site visit to SAPO at Driekop. This post office was in a dire state, due to vandalism and theft. The roof of the building was damaged beyond repair due to thieves climbing through the roof to access the post office. The Committee was informed that the traditional authorities had requested that the post office be closed and moved to a retail postal agency within the area. There was an indication from SAPO that the branch would be closed due to excessive vandalism and theft.
- The Committee observed that there was an evident lack of security within the area and that there was a need to fight crime and secure buildings belonging to SAPO.
- The Committee also encountered another instance of non-payment. A staff member of the Driekop branch responsible for sorting and delivery of mail was not paid for 9 months.
- The Committee requested SAPO to supply a complete list of all SAPO staff members within the Limpopo region who have not been paid.
- Visit to Ga-Nkwana Traditional Authority for stakeholder meeting
The Committee was welcomed by the Ga-Nkwana Traditional Authority and conducted a meeting with stakeholders.
The Committee was informed that the community experienced many problems in terms of ICT connectivity and postal services. The Committee was informed that there was currently conflict within the community due to a claim of chieftaincy within two factions of the community. The community was waiting on the outcome of the decision and certification from the Department of Traditional Affairs in respect of the chieftaincy. The traditional leaders indicated that the post office was situated far from the village and that a postal retail agency was present in the community in the form of a container. The community requested that a change of ownership in favour of the traditional retail agency. The community noted that post arrives in the village but that the traditional leaders would have to recruit volunteers to ensure that these letters are delivered. A representative from SAPO indicated that the factional clashes within the community hampered the smooth running of services to the community. However, as soon as issues are resolved in the community, the services of SAPO would be resumed. The community also raised issues outside of the scope of the Committee such as problems with electricity and lack of consultation by the local municipality with traditional leaders.
- The Committee observed that there was a lack of network which entailed that people were not able to use cell phones or receive e-mails.
- The Committee noted that there was no radio signal distribution which hampers the communities ability to access broadcasting news amongst others. A Telkom representative indicated that vandalism to current infrastructure was the cause of the lack of signal. Sentech noted that they are in the process of building a DTT site at Ga-Riba, with a 5 kilowatt transmitter. This site would be completed by April 2016 and would provide a signal 5 times better than the current one and it will cover Gankwana.
- The Committee requested feedback from Sentech and SAPO as to how they would address the issues of the community.
5.5.2 Recommendations of the Committee
- The Committee recommended that issues that falls outside the scope of the Committee to be referred to the relevant Committees and that Cogta representatives also follow up on those issues.
- ICASA to be requested to do a service analysis to check signal quality and availability.
- The Minister to ensure that Sentech monitor the implementation of DTT sites.
- Day FOUR: 18 SEPTEMBER: VISIT TO vodacom school: waterberg teacher centrE
- Site visit to the Waterberg Teacher Centre
The Committee visited the Mokopane Education Multipurpose Centre in the Waterberg District connected by Vodacom. The centre is accessible and within a 5 kilometre radius from the nearest town and is surrounded by a number of schools, clinics, a mini-hospital, municipal offices amongst others. The centre was identified by the Department of Education (DBE) as one of the 112 Teacher Resources Centres to run Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and training programmes for teachers within the Waterberg District.
The Vodacom Foundation funds and maintain the hardware and software of the centre. The centre has 200 teachers registered and it enables teachers to access diagnostic self-assessment, identify approved programmes, apply to register for programmes and apply for funding. The centre is also aimed at community development in general and has an aftercare service which allows for electronic searches for posts, bursaries, leanerships amongst others. Although the centre charges a nominal fee in regard to its aftercare service. The centre also has e-books for all grades installed on the computers to further support and develop teachers. Teachers can use the online e-books to train learners. The centre has network connectivity which is provided by a microwave link, Wi-Fi and devices.
- The Committee noted that the quality of connectivity to underserviced communities should meet the standards as determined by South Africa Connect.
- The Committee further noted that the quality of service provided at the centre does not meet the above standards.
- The Committee noted that the speed of connection was poor.
- REPORT FINDINGS
- Key findings for all entities and projects visited
The Committee made the following findings in respect of all entities and projects visited:
- The Committee observed that the various rural areas experienced problems with lack of radio and television signals.
- Rural communities also experience challenges in respect of internet access and access to landlines, as was highlighted in the Mhinga, Ga-Riba and Ga-Nkwana villages.
- The objective of schools connectivity has not been met as many schools have either not been connected and some schools that have been granted computers were unable to function due to lack of connectivity, or failure to maintain equipment, or equipment being outdated and redundant.
- The quality of life of the people in rural areas has been compromised due to serious challenges in respect of the lack of connectivity with clinics, police stations, schools, libraries and participating in general ICT communication.
- Some villages experience poor to no coverage of signals within their area.
- Post office retail agencies within rural villages experienced many challenges in respect of the limited services offered.
- Non-payment of staff was extensive across all post offices.
- Vacant posts within the post office impedes on SAPO policy to ensure that customers are served within 7 minutes of entering a post office.
- The Committee was concerned about the non-payment of stipends paid to retail agency staff.
- Vandalism and theft was rife at SAPO branches Lack of security within the surrounds of the post office was evident and this jeopardised the security of SAPO staff and the services offered.
- Postbank services are not reliable, with post offices often having insufficient funds to support this service, leading to some clients going back home without money.
- Schools connectivity has been compromised in rural areas due to the quality of connectivity by entities, outdated equipment and failure to maintain such equipment.
- The Committee was concerned about the speed of the VSAT satellite internet connection installed by Telkom at certain schools in rural areas.
- Radio stations within rural areas experienced problems with signals installed by Sentech which hampers broadcasting to the community.
- The Committee observed the slow turnaround time in respect of Sentech responding to queries from community radio stations, relating to signal disturbance.
- Community radio stations are in dire need of funding and therefore the Committee recommended that government institutions should support the future development of community radio stations by advertising on these platforms.
- The Committee noted with concern that Sentech paid for the services of the electrical contractor in advance, before the work was completed.
- The Committee noted that the decision to allow community members to access CSI projects, would rest within the authority of the principal and school governing body of the school and not Sentech or communities, in terms of the law.
- The Committee expressed concern that the Chief Director within the Department, responsible for the Vhembe district broadband project, did not attend the meeting. The Committee noted that it sends a message that the Chief Director is not serious about the work within the municipality and that he has not been on site.
- The Committee commended the work done by USAASA in respect of broadband connectivity.
- The Committee noted that quality of connectivity to underserviced communities should meet the standards determined by South Africa Connect.
- Overall recommendations by the Committee
The Committee recommends the Minister ensures:
- That Sentech conducts proper and continuous monitoring of its work in schools, police stations, clinics and radio stations in rural areas are implemented.
- That Sentech ensures proper monitoring in respect of the completion of the work by its contractors, as was highlighted by the Ntepane Primary School visit.
- That a practical, interim solution to the problem of lack of connectivity at Ntepane Primary School be implemented and that extension cords be allocated to the CSI laboratory.
- That Sentech interacts with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to solve the issue of incorrect frequencies received by the people living in rural villages.
- That Sentech improves its turnaround time in respect of responding to queries from community radio stations.
- That SAPO retail agencies offer additional services and that signage and uniforms be allocated, where necessary.
- That SAPO immediately addresses the issue of non-payment of staff within all post office retail agencies and branches. SAPO should provide a detailed report to the Committee in respect of non-payment of staff.
- That SAPO submits a complete list of all SAPO staff members within the Limpopo region who have not been paid.
- That vacant posts within SAPO be filled as soon as possible.
- That adequate security be implemented within all post offices retail stores.
- That Postbank banking services be improved to ensure that sufficient funds are available to support customers and to protect the credibility of SAPO.
- That greater support be given to post office staff in rural areas by regional managers and area managers.
- That Telkom maintains its installation projects in schools and provide adequate training to teaching staff in respect thereof.
- That Nemisa interacts with community radio stations to provide support and training for broadcasting skills.
- That Infrastructure Sharing Policy be developed and finalised to avoid duplication and waste of resources.
- That USAASA provides the Committee with a detailed report of the Mutale project.
Report to be considered.
 Statistics South Africa(2015)
 The National Development Plan (2012: 190)
 United Nation’s Human Development Report ( 2001: 29)
 World Bank (2013)
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