ICT Africa Headline News

South Africa: Free State Online Project Defended

06 March, 2013
 
SAPA
March 6, 2013

A total of 38 websites, and not only one, form part of the Free State's multi-year integrated website project, the provincial government said on Tuesday.

"In total, 38 re-engineered websites form part of this project, including the provincial government's utilisation of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter," said spokesman Mondli Mvambi.

The project included websites for the 11 provincial departments, three provincial public entities and 24 municipalities.

Mvambi was reacting to reports that the Free State government was paying R40 million for the development of a government website.

He said the total project of 38 websites cost R24m in the 2011/2012 finance year, and would cost R23.8m in the 2012/13 finance year.

Since the start of the project in 2011, the Free State premier's department had financed about R14.8m for the project. This formed part of the R23.8m budgeted for in the 2012/2013 book year.

This expenditure had been audited by the Office of the Auditor General, said Mvambi.

"The premier's department obtained an unqualified audit, also known as a clean audit, for the 2011/2012 financial year."

The State Information and Technology Agency (Sita) was responsible for the hosting and security of the websites in the project.

The consortium of Cherry-Online-Ikamva-Juggernaut, in association with various community radio stations, had been appointed to deal with design, research, content development and generation in the first phase of the project.

The second phase would bring community radio stations on board with continuous content development, and updating and broadcasting of news and activities.

The three-year tender award was published in the provincial tender bulletin of February 24, 2012.

Mvambi said the project had experienced two major setbacks.

The Sita servers crashed in October and again two weeks ago, resulting in the loss of much information. The project involved 20,000 approved documents.
Mvambi said the project was now in the final phase, involving a review of the websites of the 24 municipalities.

The province said the Free State government and municipalities' online presence was fragmented, outdated and cluttered with irrelevant information before 2011.

The project was aimed at not only improving this, but at addressing legislative and regulatory compliance aspects of departments, entities and municipalities.

Mvambi said provincial departments and entities had to comply with Treasury instructions on the information to be posted on a website.

Municipalities also had to comply with legislative prescripts in the Municipal Finance Management Act about the running of a website.

Civil rights group AfriForum indicated it would investigate the Free State website tender.

AfriForum's deputy head of local government affairs Ivan Herselman said it would look at the circumstances surrounding the awarding of the tender, to determine whether there were any irregularities.

"We requested all the information from Sita and the Free State Provincial Government regarding the bid,” he said.


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