PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATION REACH OUT TO THE PUBLIC
By: Winston Sibanda
The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has hosted the public hearing by the Portfolio Committee on communication today.
Aiming to combat high communication charges, different organisations came forward to present how high rates have affected them to the committee members.
The platform was opened by one of DUT’s students, Clive Ndou who highlighted how the high rates affect students and the unemployed. He mentioned how technology has changed the world such that learning is now conducted online. This meant that more data bundles are needed for education and they come costly. He blamed the costs on the lack of competition of network providers in the telecommunication sector.
According to Ndou, South Africa’s MTN and Vodacom networks own 80 percent of the market. He argued that international calls are cheaper than local calls, thus making it possible for network providers to reduce their prices.
Sanele Gcumisa pushed the Ocule IT Business agenda. He focused on how these high rates are shutting small businesses out, since they cannot afford to advertise. This company has come up with online health management assessments which require internet to access. Rates are costly for them to initiate new software since data is expensive.
Advocate Robin Sewlal shaded some light on the legal aspect of high rates. He referred to section 16 of the South African Constitution which states that, citizens have the right to receive and impart information. He also mentioned that rights do however come with a duty. He linked section 16 to section 29 of the Constitution which talks about education.
According to Sewlal, cost of communication has prevented people from reading and writing, hence affecting the literacy rate. He also pointed out the need for Cooperate Social Investments to be analysed so as to clarify how the money is spent.
National Freedom Party (NFP) Secretary General Professor Nlanhla Khubisa was the last speaker of the session. He spoke on behalf of NFP, highlighting how there is a need for the nation to introduce computer literacy to remorse areas. ” We (NFP) viewed the move as a step towards improving job opportunities for the upcoming generation”, said Khubisa.
At the end of the day’s programme, the committee heard and accepted the presentations and grievances presented to them. In some of the cases needing research, Advocate Sewlal took the initiative to work with different departments in terms of research.