Probe into SA broadband agency corruption

2014-03-26 07:30
Lower data cost should be a priority in SA so that more people have access to the internet. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Lower data cost should be a priority in SA so that more people have access to the internet. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has instructed the Special Investigating Unit to investigate allegations of maladministration at the Universal Service and Access Agency of SA (Usaasa).

"The SIU is further authorised to investigate the agency's funding, by way of a subsidy in the amount of R500m, to a service provider for the construction and expansion of an electronic communications network for Emalahleni local municipality," Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement on Tuesday.

The SIU would also investigate the procurement of services in relation to the Rapid Deployment of Public Access Facilities Programme.

The Universal Service and Access Agency of SA focuses on providing technological access to "underserviced" areas of the country.

It wants every South African to have universal access to broadband by 2020.

Allegations

Maharaj said the probe would look into allegations of serious maladministration in connection with the affairs of Usaasa and its board, including:

- Improper or unlawful conduct by employees

- Unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property

- Unlawful, irregular or unapproved acquisitive act, transaction, measure or practice having a bearing upon State property

- Intentional or negligent loss of public money or damage to public property

- Maladministration in relation to the recruitment process which resulted in the appointment of the CEO in 2013.

The probe followed allegations of corruption and maladministration contained in a United Democratic Movement (UDM) open letter to Zuma in 2013.

In the letter, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa asked Zuma's office to intervene.

He claimed that the then Communications Minister Dina Pule and other senior department officials had approved a multimillion-rand application by Cell C for the roll-out of broadband infrastructure in the eMalahleni municipality.

Holomisa alleged the application was approved despite not being subjected to the normal adjudication process, as required by the Electronic Communications Act.

He said that had it not been for the refusal of Usaasa executive Mmatlou Morudu to implement the project, the money would have been released.

Holomisa called for the suspension of the agency's senior management and Pule, who has since been replaced by Yunus Carrim.
- SAPA
Read more on:    corruption  |  broadband
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