Government spends R734k on R957 Digitech website: DA calls for accountability

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

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

The recent revelations regarding the Digitech website and app store have once again exposed the blatant disregard for taxpayer money by the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) and the ANC government. The fact that R743.644.95 was spent on redesigning the site raises serious questions about the allocation of funds and the competency of those involved.

It is shocking to discover that the Digitech website, which cost taxpayers a significant amount, was built using a mere $49 (R957) template. The question that begs to be answered is: what happened to the remaining R742.687? The Democratic Alliance has previously exposed the exorbitant fees paid for this website/app store, which was a dismal failure from the outset when it was created by the State Information Technology Agency (SITA).

Not only did the ANC deem it acceptable to pay a contractor an exorbitant fee at the expense of the taxpayer, but it was also discovered that the site did not even function properly. Anyone could access the administrator function using the generic username and password “admin.” This level of incompetence and negligence is completely unacceptable.

Furthermore, it is deeply concerning that when the website/app store was operational, there were no downloadable apps available. This raises further questions about the purpose and functionality of the site. The DA consulted with reputable IT companies who confirmed that this project was charged at least ten times higher than what should have been the reasonable cost.

It is clear that this project was nothing more than a cash cow handed to a connected cadre for their loyalty to the ANC. The DA is demanding that the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Mondli Gungubele, be summoned before the Portfolio Committee on Communications and Digital Technologies to provide a thorough explanation of this debacle.

We have written to the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, urging them to take action and hold the Minister accountable. The DA demands answers regarding the authorization of this contract, whether proper tender procedures were followed, the identities of the company directors who were awarded the contract, and the potential consequences, such as disciplinary actions or recovery of funds, for this failure and waste of taxpayer money.

The DA will not tolerate the reckless mismanagement of public resources. We will continue to fight for transparency, accountability, and the responsible use of taxpayers’ money. South Africans deserve better than this, and it is our duty to ensure that those responsible are held to account.