The State Information Technology Agency (SITA) has distanced itself from an e-learning contract by the Eastern Cape Department of Education.

A statement from Luvoya Keyise, executive caretaker of SITA, reads:

SITA notes with concern mounting allegations in the media regarding the procurement of materials for assisting learners in the Eastern Cape with e-learning.

A crucial part of SITA’s mandate to assist all South Africa’s citizens with embracing the fourth industrial revolution is to guard against corruption and ensure procurement is done fairly and equitably.

The facts of the matter being reported are as follows:

The Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDOE) did not get approval from SITA and contravened Section 7(3) of the State Information Technology Act No 88 of 1998 (SITA Act), when they “piggybacked” on an existing provincial contract from the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism contract and procured the material and services directly with a service provider.

SITA derives its mandate from the SITA Act. In terms of Section 7(3) of the SITA Act, every department must procure all information technology goods or services through SITA. According to Section 1 of the SITA Act, a “department” refers to a national department, provincial administration, provincial department or provincial component listed in Schedules 1, 2 and 3 of the Public Service Act of 1994.

In March 2020, SITA advised the ECDOE that it considers the participation on an existing contract as an unfair practice, given the need for an open, competitive and fair process and that there are multiple capable service providers in the market, who are able to provide this service.

The ECDOE entered into a contractual agreement with the Sizwe Africa IT Group in April 2020.

SITA received a letter from the ECDOE on 26 June 2020 informing SITA of its participation in the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism contract.

In response to this letter from SITA to the ECDOE on 3 July 2020, SITA clearly outlined that it was approached for advice by the Eastern Cape Provincial Treasury on this matter on 23 March 2020, to which SITA responded on 25 March 2020. This response indicated that the Eastern Cape’s Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism is a “department” as defined in the SITA Act and therefore enjoined to procure all its information technology goods and services through SITA.

Section 217 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa states that: “When an organ of state in the national, provincial or local sphere of government, or any other institution identified in national legislation, contracts for goods or services, it must do so in accordance with a system which is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective.”

Current response to the matter:

SITA reiterates its commitment to serving the citizens of South Africa, public service delivery, and promotes the efficiency of government departments and public bodies through ICT and SITA is committed to taking the necessary legal action, to protect the organisation.

On the Eastern Cape matter, SITA is taking the contract between the Eastern Cape Education Department, Sizwe Africa IT Group and MTN on review, and SITA will not further comment until the High Court has pronounced on the matter.

With regards to media reports in respect of the RT15 contract, SITA is not involved in the appointment of any service provider under this contract. Any queries or questions on the matter can be directed to the National Treasury as the custodians of the contract.

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