Bryan Porter

SA sounding like a stuck record

2007-06-29 10:05

Bryan Porter

Don't get me wrong, I've had my own fair share of misgivings about 2010, but I'm starting to get really annoyed each time I turn on the radio, or stumble across a blog where I hear or read a South African complaining that we won't finish the 2010 stadia in time.

I've grown up in this country, and if there's one thing we know how to do, and do well, it's build.

Take a drive through Fourways in Johannesburg, or along the South coast roads in the Cape, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Mock Tuscan villas and giant shopping centres litter the landscape - seemingly mushrooming every few weeks.

Perhaps all we need to do is think of each stadium as giant shopping complex, with football pitches instead of food courts, and I challenge that no-one will think we won't make it.

But while we're good at certain things, there are other things we seem to be seriously bad at.

Computer systems

Let's take computer systems. Anyone who's had a run-in with the disastrous eNatis system recently may easily forget that this is the country that spawned Mark Shuttleworth.

I recently read an article on ITWeb, where Home Affairs director-general Mavuso Msimang speaks about his dream of an IT system that gives "a single view" of citizens and foreign visitors, to be in place by 2010.

Achieving this, he says, depends on "political will rather than the technology".

Considering that Home Affairs is still running on paper based systems, apparently using just 5% of its IT capacity, this will require a complete overhaul of operations, and a lot more than just 'political will'.

Msimang wants a single system that unites the information stores of Home Affairs, SARS, the police service and other government departments.

Now I don't know about you, but hearing this sends shivers down my spine. The idea that a single click of a mouse by an incompetent Home Affairs official could suddenly affect my tax details, police record, and any number of other things, is frankly frightening.

  • Bryan is's lifestyle editor.

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