The Universal Services and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) has hit back at Marian Shinn, DA’s Shadow Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, for alleging that BUA Africa is not one of the 26 South African companies awarded a share of the R4,3 billion Set-Top-Boxes (STB) manufacturing and distribution tender. By Gugu Lourie
In an article published on Tuesday by TechFinancials.co.za, Shinn said the Democratic Alliance has uncovered a press release from Chinese telecommunications giant Shenzhen Skyworth Digital stating that it has, through “its factory in Johannesburg – co-owned by local company BUA Africa – successfully completed its first shipment, delivering a total of 70 000 STBs across South Africa.
“While BUA Africa did attend the 2 December 2015 mandatory briefing for companies interested in tendering, the company’s name is absent from the panel of winning company names that was briefly posted on USAASA’s website in April,” said Shinn.
“In the absence of any official release from USAASA or the Department of Communications on the placement of orders for STBs, I call on Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi, who took charge of the Broadcast Digital Migration programme of which the STB tender is part, to urgently state if orders have been placed and, if so, with who.”
However, USAASA refuted these allegations, saying the agency “will not be intimidated by business people masquerading as MPs.”
USAASA spokesman, Sipho Mngqibisa, said, “USAASA finds it strange that this member of the Telecommunication and postal service portfolio committee, who has formed part of all portfolio committee sittings where the outcomes of the STB/Antenna tenders were discussed, has taken it upon herself to cast malicious doubt on this above-the-board tender process with the sole intention of derailing the process of digital migration so as to open it up for those who were left out of the tender process.”
The agency added that the fact of the matter is that USAASA embarked on a transparent process, overseen by an independent reputable Consulting Firm.
“Hounarable Shinn asked for details of Bua Africa shareholding, and whether the company did submit its bid at 9:52 on the 15th October 2015 and was given correct information a minute later by means of sms,” said Mngqibisa.
He said the facts are as follows:
- Namec Micronix responded to a tender as published by USAASA through national newspapers and Government Gazette.
- Namec Micronix subsequently, after being appointed in the panel of service providers to supply and deliver STB`s, submitted the name document through following CIPC regulations. The new name is Bua Africa. Once again, this information was provided to Honourable Shinn.
Mngqibisa added, “We are worried as the agency that there seem to be a malicious unfortunately uncalculated effort by the same source to punch holes in a process that was clean, fair and objective. First she manufactured a story that “some” possible tenderers did not see the tender because it was advertised during the holiday season, by this she was trying to derail our efforts to migrate this country, now these lies. We see a behaviour from the same source where government is criticized for failure to migrate the country but at the same time, the same source looks for every excuse you can find to derail the migration, next she is expected to run to the Public Protector.”
“But the beneficiaries of this scheme subsidy, i.e. the poor Television owning households now know who is working tirelessly to ensure that poor people are deprived of high definition picture quality by fighting against the implementation of the digital migration project.”