Battle brews over Limpopo broadband contract

Battle brews over Limpopo broadband contract

Broadband. Picture: Twitter

The project, which has a budget of R585 million, is allegedly in contravention of the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) Act.

The Limpopo provincial government may have incurred irregular expenditure on a R500 million broadband infrastructure project, after it allegedly contravened the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) Act.

The project, which has a budget of R585 million, is at the centre of a dispute between Sita and Limpopo Connexion, a subsidiary of the Limpopo Economic Development Agency (Leda) and may end up in court.

The tender, to roll out broadband infrastructure in Limpopo, was advertised and awarded to Altron Nexus in 2017.

But according to the acting CEO of Sita, Ntutule Tshenye, the project is in contravention of the Act.

“In terms of the Act, Sita is the statutory supplier of services to national and provincial government,” said Tshenye.

He said the Limpopo provincial government (LPG) could not use the broadband services of Limpopo Connexion as it would be in further contravention of the Act and Regulations, which would see the LPG incurring more irregular expenditure.

“Sita had previously taken the matter to court when the Eastern Cape provincial government had appointed a service provider to deliver broadband there.”

The Eastern Cape High Court in Bisho last year held that a contract between the Eastern Cape government and Liquid Telecommunications, without the approval of Sita, was reviewable. The court ruled it was the role of Sita to facilitate government technology services.

Tshenye said since Limpopo had made a significant investment in the broadband infrastructure, Sita would work closely with the government to bring the initiative in line with the legislative framework.

However, Patrick Monkoe, the spokesperson for Limpopo Connexion, denied the project was in contravention of the Act. It was in line with the province’s development plan.

“The objects of Sita is stated as providing ICT services to departments and public bodies, whereas Limpopo Connexion provides core open-access broadband infrastructure to be used by the entire Limpopo population, including large business, SMMEs and households,” said Monkoe.

He said that the project was advertised on an open tender and awarded to Altron Nexus. Monkoe said Limpopo Connexion had contracted with Altron Nexus to implement the project through its own subcontracting arrangements.

“Limpopo Connexion is also a subsidiary of [Leda], a public entity that derives its mandate from the Limpopo Development Plan.”

gcinan@citizen.co.za

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