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Parliamentary budget vote debate: Telecommunications, Postal services and Communication – Lack of progress with digital communication a good illustration of government’s ineptitude

South Africa's planned move from analogue to digital broadcasting services was supposed to have been implemented in 2011. It did not happen and now the new target is 2020. This is a shining example of the ANC government's ineptitude in the field of communication and the country is falling further and further behind the rest of the world.

Communication is key to all forms of success. The importance of this Department must not be underestimated. It is, therefore, imperative that the various divisions of the departments that were merged to form the current Department function properly. This is, however, not happening at present.

The lack of stability as regards to the Department's leadership had a negative impact on entities like Icasa, the Film and Publications Board, the Government's Communication and Information System (GCIS) and especially the national broadcaster the SABC.

Since the implementation of the Electronic Communications Act 17 years ago, nothing has happened. The transition from analogue to digital broadcasting services, which was started ten years ago and that had an initial deadline of 2011, has still not realised. It is also doubtful that the new target of 2020 will be met.

South Africa is even lagging behind Namibia and Botswana in this regard. This delay has already cost the country more than R10 billion and it is detrimental to the economy. On top of that, there are poor people who are being denied the opportunity to make use of an affordable, digital service.

Concerning the SABC, the name Hlaudi Motsoeneng can be used as an example of the broadcaster's deterioration. The ANC defended Motsoeneng at all costs, despite his role in the destruction of the corporation and even after he was implicated in the theft of R631 million from the Department of Human Settlements in the Free State.

President Cyril Ramaphosa's dream of a super city will never realise amid the mismanagement and corruption that is increasingly holding South Africa back when it comes to digital communication and progress. There can be no mention of a Fourth Industrial Revolution with a dysfunctional post office service and public broadcaster.

South Africa first needs to take what it already has and ensure that it is in good, working order. Eradicate corruption and appoint people based on merit. Learn from the Motsoeneng-mistake. Take the advice offered by experts and well-meaning opposition parties, like the FF Plus, to heart.

Until that happens, the President's dream for South Africa will remain an unattainable fairy tale.

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