Department of Communications spends almost R750 000 to fix “Grade 8 IT project” website

Issued by Natasha Mazzone MP – DA Shadow Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies
25 May 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Natasha Mazzone MP.

It was revealed this week from a reply to a DA parliamentary question that the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies had to spend R743 644 to fix their controversial Digitech website.

For those who remember, the Department held a launch event for the embarrassingly poor quality Digitech website. Many users who visited the site likened it to a grade 8 IT project that was created over a weekend.

The website was of an extremely low quality and did not fulfil the function of an “app store” at all. In fact, embarrassingly it was merely a collection of embedded promotional Youtube videos. What made it even more embarrassing was that the ANC government did not even remember to moderate the uploaded content, most of them being “memes” or videos that actively mocked the ANC.

At that time, the Minister said that it was the State Information Technology Agency (“SITA”) who had “designed” the website, however now they have spent close to R750 000 to design what looks like a relatively simple website.

We even tried to use the “app store” to download one of the apps but it does not allow you to do so.

The question begs, what on earth is this website useful for?

As the DA mentioned previously when it first uncovered this embarrassment, contracts such as these reek of possible corruption and scandals such as the Free State website scandal in 2013 when it transpired that the Free State government had spent R40m on its website and where National Treasury eventually called for criminal charges to be laid against those involved in tenders awarded to development company that was awarded the tender for the site.

The DA has submitted further parliamentary questions to ascertain the reasoning for why so much of taxpayer money was spent on an irrelevant website – when 6000 SA Post Office employees are facing retrenchment from a liquidated Post Office and where thousands of employees still do not have their medical aid benefits due to the theft that has occurred at the Post office.

We will also call on the Minister to appear before the Portfolio Committee and present on the purpose of this website and justify these outrageous costs.