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DA calls for an investigation into the Department of Arts and Culture’s R39 million internet contract

MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela. I Supplied

MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela. I Supplied

Published Jan 27, 2022

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DURBAN - The DA has called for a probe into the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture’s awarding of a three-year, R39 million contract to Emalangeni Technologies for internet connectivity in libraries.

DA spokesperson on arts and culture Bradley Singh alleged that there has been a R15m increase in the contract value compared to the current three-year contract which is due to expire shortly.

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Singh regarded the new contract value as outrageous and was one of the reasons why the department is yet to receive a clean audit.

He added that the monthly cost is expected to be just over R1m over a period of 36 months.

“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.”

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Singh said the auditor-general (A-G) consistently red-flagged the department for being unable to prove that all KZN libraries have internet connection.

He questioned why the library internet budget was increased by R15m which libraries will have access to the internet.

Singh said the A-G’s 2021/22 audit report also found more than R9 million in irregular expenditure and a further R1.3m as fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

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In response the department said it advertises all tenders in newspapers and on the department website and the tender process is open to anyone eligible in this instance.

The department stated that the internet connectivity tender was advertised on September 28, 2021, in newspapers, on its website and all processes were followed in awarding the bid.

MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela said: “This ensures that all 155 of our libraries, including rural areas, have connectivity. We will await any investigation and will respond accordingly once the investigation is complete.”

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Department spokesperson Phathisa Mfuyo said the continued attacks were intended to distract from progressive work under the stewardship of Mavimbela.

Mfuyo said the MEC had repeatedly asked for concrete evidence the allegations are true.

“Instead, Singh does not address issues within the portfolio committee. He chooses to sensationalise information readily available to him as a KZN arts and culture portfolio committee member.”

“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, and thus, responsibility is the one we take seriously,” said Mfuyo.

Several attempts were also made to get clarity from Emalangeni Technologies, but it declined to comment.

According to tits website, Emalangeni Technologies was established in 2009 and is in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. It focuses on website development, software development, graphic design, computer hardware and software troubleshooting, and networking solutions.

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