The African National Congress (ANC) has been implicated in irregularities involving contracts for telecommunications networks that were handled by the Universal Services and Access Agency of South Africa (Usaasa).
Former executive manager of programmes at Usaasa, Mmatlou Morudu, said in court documents that he lost his job for not awarding a contract to Cell C after being instructed to do so by Luthuli House, the Sunday Independent reported.
According to the report, the court documents show that Morudu refused to carry out the instruction of his chief executive, Zami Nkosi, which led to threats of him being “shown the door”.
Morudu said that he had been instructed to release R500 million to Cell C for the upgrade of the communications network at eMalahleni Municipality.
The contract is among a number of activities at the agency being probed by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) after the Presidency issued a proclamation to the effect.
A spokesperson for the ANC reportedly told the Sunday Independent that they did not want to be dragged into the case and that Luthuli House does not manage any state agency.
DoC wants control of Usaasa’s money: report
When the Presidency first announced the commencement of the SIU probe, Usaasa issued a statement in which it alleged that “there are those” working to have projects taken away from it “to other structures”.
In its statement, Usaasa said that the projects in question include South Africa’s migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting, and broadband deployments.
The Sunday Independent has now reported that it has seen documents suggesting that the Department of Communications (DoC) wishes to seize control of the fund and handle procurements directly.
Specifically, the director-general of the DoC, Rosey Sekese reportedly sent a letter to Nkosi communicating its intention to directly handle the funds for the DTT set-top box subsidy.
Part of South Africa’s digital migration plan is to offer a subsidised set-top box (STB) to the poorest households in the country.
The STB is a decoder-like device that everyone currently receiving their TV signal over a standard antenna will need to be able to watch the new digital TV signal.
Sunday Independent reported that a spokesperson for the DoC said that there were no plans to take over control of the universal service and access fund (USAF).
While there were grey areas around the roles of the DoC and Usaasa, a white paper expected to be finalised in the second half of 2014 will provide clarity on this, the DoC was reported as saying.
Any changes that may be needed to the laws governing the USAF will be done in consultation with Usaasa, the DoC said.