DA seeks new urgent probe into set-top box procurement

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance has written to the public protector to request a further urgent investigation into the procurement process of government-sponsored set-top-boxes (STBs), which has been dogged by delays.

The DA said in a statement that this was the second request sent to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane after an initial request on August 8.

STBs are a key component of the broadcast digital migration process for the switch-over from analogue to digital broadcast TV signals.

The DA’s initial request to the public protector was for her office to probe the procurement process for government-subsidised STBs, investigate alleged tender irregularities and determine whether the entire BDM process needs to be cancelled.  

The party also asked her to recommend disciplinary action by the police or other investigatory bodies. 

"This past week, the #GuptaLeaks revealed how Tony Gupta allegedly acted as a channel between MultiChoice – a key protagonist in the STB encryption battle – and former communications minister Faith Muthambi to change the BDM policy in MultiChoice’s favour, which she did," said the DA's Marian Shinn, the party's spokesperson for telecommunications and postal services. 

READ: #GuptaLeaks: How MultiChoice paid the Guptas millions

MultiChoice has denied allegations of impropriety

"Most recently, the Hawks raided 13 of the 26 firms involved in the STB tender, following a 10-month investigation by the Competition Commission into collusion in the process," Shinn said. 

"These revelations, in conjunction with a PricewaterhouseCoopers investigation, clearly indicate serious procurement irregularities or criminal acts were committed, and must be acted upon." 

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