SEKHUKHUNE – The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Limpopo has welcomed the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations (Hawks)’s probe into a R500 million broadband project managed by Limpopo Connexion, a subsidiary of the Limpopo Economic Development Agency (LEDA).
According to the DA, the broadband telecommunication network infrastructure was announced during Limpopo Premier, Chupu Mathabatha’s Sate of the Province Address (SOPA) in 2017 and was reiterated the 2018 SOPA.
The party said that Premier Mathabatha was adamant that the broadband of connectivity was “the backbone of knowledge economy” and that its first phase would have the roll-out of the broadband infrastructure in Polokwane, including identified key provincial growth points.
The second phase of the programme was to cover 80 percent of the provincial population, as per provincial spatial development framework.
Risham Maharaj, DA Provincial Spokesperson on the office of the premier, said it was of concern that a senior government official who blew the whistle on the irregularity of the project in question was placed on suspension four days after lodging the complaint.
Maharaj said his party found it strange that the Limpopo Connexion was not listed as a subsidiary on LEDA’s website and would investigate that.
He added that the lack of consequence management in the office of the premier was worrisome and that Premier Mathabatha and his team ought to always be beyond reproach, but lately, various allegations immersed, including an illegal appointment, which resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R1.4 million and a criminal case opened by NEHAWU who alleged that R80 000 was paid for services not rendered.
“The lack of completion of this project deprived many people living in rural areas and, specifically our learners, of reliable connectivity during the height of the COVID-19. Broadband connectivity at schools could have assisted the class of 2020 who endured much hardship whilst trying to prepare for their examinations. Government has a duty to utilize funds for the purpose they were allocated for and not for greedy self interest,” said Maharaj.
He concluded that he DA would request the Hawks to prioritise the investigation and to ensure that all those implicated be held accountable.