Mystery letter halted smartcards

2010-04-20 16:25
Cape Town - An anonymous letter, received by the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), stopped the department of home affairs' so-called Smart ID Card (SIDC) project in its tracks, MPs heard on Tuesday.

The contents of the letter, and the allegations it contains, will not be known before the end of June, when a forensic audit report into the matter is finalised.

Briefing members of Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee, Sita acting chief executive officer Ramabele Magoma-Nthite said the letter, received on September 9 2008, had made allegations about "serious flaws with regards to the evaluation of the Sita tender" for the card.

"Pursuant to the anonymous letter, Sita, on September 10 2008, halted the tender process, with a view to finalise (an) Auditor General's report on compliance with agreed-upon procedures," she said.

In May 2008, home affairs asked Sita to publish a tender for the long-awaited SIDC, which was approved by Cabinet in July 2001.

Tender evaluation process

Following receipt of the AG's report, the agency then decided, in December 2008, to start a forensic investigation. This had commenced in February last year, and led to the cancellation of the tender process six months later.

Responding to questions about the contents of the anonymous letter, Sita chair Zodwa Manase said among the allegations it made were some relating to the tender evaluation process.

"On the anonymous letter... the allegations that were made are being investigated... Some of the issues that were raised there were about the evaluation process, which involved not only Sita people... (but also) home affairs people and (others).

"The evaluation committee is made up of people from various departments and hence it made allegations about certain things that happened there.

"The full report will actually bring all those details, but it was just saying that the process has not been followed properly.

"It mentioned... that in the beginning, the evaluation committee was made up of 10 people but in the end there were four people.

"There were allegations that some people did not resign, although it's alleged they resigned, so this is the investigation that is being done, to determine if some of the things that are alleged there are true," she said.

Report not available immediately

Manase later added that there were "other irregularities" mentioned in the letter, but did not explain what these were. She declined to give further details, saying these were contained in the final report, "which will be finalised by the end of June".

At least one MP expressed frustration about the final audit report not being immediately available, as well as the lack of information on the contents of the anonymous letter.

Democratic Alliance MP Masizole Mnqasela started to say that he thought there was "something big awaiting us" in the forensic report, but he was quickly shut down by committee chairperson Ben Martins, who told Mnqasela he was speculating.

Project to restart in 2011


According to a Parliament Research Unit document tabled at the briefing, and dated February 22 this year, the long delays in launching the SIDC project may result in an unexpected halving of costs.

"The costs of smartcard technology have come down quite drastically... driven by many factors, such as the proliferation of cellular phone SIM cards.

"Furthermore, the entrance of China into the production of SIM cards has had global impacts on the cost structure of the technology.

"As a result, the current ID card project is expected to cost, at most, about 50% of the original R2bn anticipated by the department of home affairs," the document states.

Earlier this month, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told journalists at Parliament that plans to produce the smart ID - which will contain an individual's personal information on a card the size of a credit card - would start up again next year.
 

Read more on:    nkosazana dlamini-zuma

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
4 real car inventions that seem like science fiction

Vehicle design and tech have come so far so fast, that what seemed impossible has become reality. These are some of the fun and exciting innovations that have found their way into vehicle tech.

/News
 

Top 10 richest musicians of all time

Check out the gallery to find out who they are!

 
 

Luxury living

Seven of the most expensive children's toys ever made
5 millionaires turned murderers
The youngest billionaires in the world and how they made it
Watch: Flying first class has never been this luxurious!
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Innovation, idealism, romanticism and other far reaching dreams can lead you into a spiral of enthusiasm and excitement. Somewhere...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.