DA wants probe into R39 million library Internet connectivity tender

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The DA questioned an irregular internet connection contract for rural libraries in KZN that has escalated by R15 million.
The DA questioned an irregular internet connection contract for rural libraries in KZN that has escalated by R15 million.
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The DA has called for a probe into KwaZulu-Natal arts and culture department’s R39 million library Internet connectivity tender.

According to the DA arts and culture provincial spokesperson, Bradley Singh, the three-year contract was irregular, as the cost of the work had allegedly escalated by R15 million.

“The DA regards the value of this contract as outrageous. The monthly cost is expected to be just over R1 million over a period of 36 months,” he said.

The department, Singh said, could have saved millions of rands, had it gone for a cheaper option.

He said: 

“This is ridiculous when there are Internet service providers that charge R399 per month for uncapped data. The amount paid to this company is probably enough to supply Internet connectivity to every library in the country.”

Singh, who said the DA would lodge a complaint with the Special Investigative Unit (SIU), urged arts and culture MEC, Hlengiwe Mavimbela, to look into the contract.

The tender was part of the department’s response to concerns raised by the Auditor-General (AG) about the majority of rural libraries in the province that do not have internet access.

155 rural libraries

While the department said it would co-operate with the SIU, should the investigative unit resolve to probe the tender, it maintained that processes were followed during the awarding of the tender.

“As the Department of Arts and Culture, we advertise all tenders in newspapers and [on] our website. The tender process is open to anyone eligible in this instance.

“This tender was advertised on the 28th of September 2021; in the Mercury, Isolezwe newspaper and DAC website, all processes were followed in awarding the bid,” the department’s spokesperson, Phathisa Mfuyo, said.

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The department had to ensure that its 155 libraries, some of which were in rural areas, had Internet connectivity, said Mfuyo.

While Singh had the right to raise issues, the department was concerned about the fact that the DA MPL made the allegations without providing evidence to support his claims.

Mfuyo said:

“The MEC has repeatedly asked for concrete evidence to deal with matters procedurally where the allegations have proven to be true. [Singh] does not address issues within the portfolio committee. Instead, he chooses to sensationalise information readily available to him as a KZN arts and culture portfolio committee member.”

The manner in which Singh raised the matter appeared to be designed to project the department as corrupt, Mfuyo said.

“It would serve the public better if allegations were dealt with instead of creating unfounded perceptions.

“We have a responsibility to serve the people of KwaZulu-Natal equally,” he said.

The department, Mfuyo said, was concerned that Singh’s allegations were designed to tarnish the image of MEC Mavimbela.

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