Budget Vote 26 -
Communications

 

Speech by Rev KM Zondi MP
 

National Assembly: 20 April 2010

 

Honourable Chairperson

 

I rise to express the IFP's support for this Budget Vote for the simple reason that the people that we represent need the services which have been placed under the custodianship of this Department.

 

The Honourable, the Minister made very good pronouncements during last year's Budget debate and we supported him in the hope that he would exercise strong political and ethical leadership to steer his Department towards the implementation of those pronouncements. Admittedly, one year in office is a short time to pass harsh judgement on the Minister's ability to achieve that which he announced his Department was going to do.

 

I come from a political tradition that says it is better not to make promises which cannot be fulfilled because all you do is raise people's expectations and heighten their sense of frustration when such promises cannot be achieved. In fact, the danger is, that when that happens, you actually insult the intelligence of the people to whom such promises were made.

 

I hope that this is not going to be the leadership style of the Honourable the Minister to employ the tactic of deception to carry along those people who wait in hopeful expectation for that which cannot be delivered. In fact, I trust that the Honourable the Minister is going to make good the promissory note he gave to the people of South Africa, especially those who live in underserviced areas of the country.

 

We support this Budget Vote in the hope that people who live in rural areas are soon going to see tangible results of the promises and the good intentions which were promised them last year.  But hope alone is not going to suffice in the long run. It is solid delivery on the ground which, in the final analysis, will cause people to say "Ah ha, indeed we can see things turning for the better".

 

We praise the Honourable the Minister for bold initiatives which he took in forcing cell-phone operators to reduce inter-connection rates. We can only hope that such a reduction is going to be passed on to ordinary South Africans. Similarly we praise the Honourable the Minister for the leadership role he played towards the resolution of the painful saga which engulfed the SABC, by ensuring that his Department provide the financial guarantees and other necessary support to enable the Interim Board and later the new and current Board of the SABC in their daunting task of turning around and stabilising the SABC, to save this country from possible embarrassment which would surely befall us if the SABC disintegrated ahead of the FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament which will commence in 52 days time.

 

We hope that all the budgetary allocations to entities such as Sentech and Telkom are going to be money well spent for the extension of the national wireless broadband network and for the implementation of the ICT access network, as well as to fund the ICT infrastructure for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Similarly, one hopes that the budgetary allocations which we are being called upon to approve are going to be worth our while, to make available to the Universal Service and Access Fund to build capacity and to procure the necessary supporting infrastructure to expand ICT access to South Africans who live in underserviced areas, as well as to complete the migration from an analogue to digital technology platform.

 

Honourable Chairperson, we are mindful of the fact that this Department was in the 2010 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) requested to include explicit savings initiatives in the Strategic Plan. This request to save was made with the proviso that existing, new and expanding frontline services would not be compromised over the next three years.

 

This was done in the context of the painful fact that our country's economy was, like most other economies of the world, going through a difficult patch which called for austerity measures from all of us. It is very disappointing to say the least, that this Department has not gained a reputation of leading by example, especially on the part of the Honourable the Minister.

When all of us are called upon to tighten our belts and especially when even the poor are called upon to also make their patriotic efforts to moderate their demands and expectations, it painfully flies in the face of what we exhort people to do when we and especially when the Honourable the Minister appears to have a reputation which points to the contrary. It is in fact, very disappointing for those of us who want the Honourable the Minister to succeed, when he hits newspaper headlines for wrong and embarrassing reasons. We begin to wonder whether the savings projections reflected in the Department's Strategic Plan are going to be achieved. We make an earnest plea for the Minister to rise to the occasion of leading by example.

 

I thank you.

 

Contact:
Rev Musa Zondi MP
083 440 5966