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Gauteng Broadband Network parties committed to ‘good governance’

Read time 3min 40sec
SITA acting CEO Ntutule Tshenye.
SITA acting CEO Ntutule Tshenye.

The Gauteng Broadband Network’s (GBN’s) steering committee, made up of the State IT Agency (SITA), the Gauteng Department of e-Government and Altron, have agreed on critical milestones, including ‘good governance’, to see the provincial connectivity project through.

This follows a report by ITWeb that the e-government department is threatening to bring the project to a halt, citing irregular expenditure and non-delivery on the part of SITA, which awarded the GBN tender to Altron Nexus.

Implementation of the multibillion-rand project has been in the spotlight in recent months, with allegations ranging from wasteful expenditure, non-compliance, missed key milestones and disgruntled SMEs crying foul for being sidelined from the lucrative project.

In a statement sent to ITWeb, SITA acting CEO Ntutule Tshenye addresses these allegations, saying the agency is committed to work in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government, to provide the much-needed service delivery that citizens require.

Tshenye indicates that two “important meetings” took place on Thursday, 12 December 2019 and Friday, 13 December 2019 respectively.

The first meeting, which took place on 12 December 2019, Tshenye reveals he met with Altron CEO, Mteto Nyati. “In this engagement both entities reaffirmed their collective commitment to both qualitative service delivery and good governance where no element of corruption will be tolerated in the execution of this project.

“The importance of SMMEs, the role that they must play and fairness in access to work, and opportunities were highly emphasised in this meeting.”

On the next day, 13 December 2019, the parties of the steering committee also had a productive meeting, according to him, with all “partners highly incentivised to speed the pace of service delivery”.

The meeting also resulted in some critical milestones being reached. “This included the approval of unique departmental requirements that are critical for success in the delivery of the GBN project. To ensure appropriate financial oversight and fiscal responsibility, and adherence to governance prescripts, SITA will not issue a work order to the service provider without a purchase order (PO) from the Gauteng government. The three parties on the project steering committee are working in a combined effort to ensure that the department’s KPIs for the GBN project will be met by the end of the 2019/20 financial year.”

He continues: “Effective service delivery requires a high level of transparency, ethical behaviour, and zero tolerance or enablement of corruption. SITA again reiterates its zero-tolerance policy towards corruption in all contracts that it administers. SITA went through an open and competitive tender and bidding process that was audited by both internal and external auditors in 2018. Any allegations or suspicions will be and must be dealt with decisively, regardless of which of the project partners stand accused.

“SITA has engaged with the Auditor General’s (AG) findings in respect of the award of this tender. These matters were raised subsequent to the awarding of the contract. The administrative matters that were of concern to the AG have subsequently been addressed.

“The GBN steering committee has been very decisive in putting in place governance protocols and controls so as to ensure that work is executed ethically and that rigorous standards are maintained.”

On the issue of the value of the tender, Tshenye says the contract awarded to Altron has a maximum contract value of R2.9 billion, adding it is a contract with the flexibility built in to factor in austerity and budget availability.

The R1.3 billion committed to the project is from the e-government department budget, he states.

“Given the importance of service delivery to communities, especially in the health and education sectors, departments may fund priority areas and contribute from their own budgets, to accelerate delivery. All ICT allocations will also be reviewed during the new budget cycle.

“Furthermore, stringent processes to monitor all aspects of the delivery are in place. Processes that ensure fairness and transparency with the necessary checks and balances, that eliminate potential irregularities, have been set in place.”

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