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ANC accuses Winde of failing to bridge the digital divide despite spending billions on IT

Premier Alan Winde gives the budget vote speech in provincial legislature. Picture: Armand Hough. African News Agency (ANA)

Premier Alan Winde gives the budget vote speech in provincial legislature. Picture: Armand Hough. African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 30, 2022

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Cape Town - The ANC has accused Premier Alan Winde of failing to bridge the digital divide in the Western Cape, despite spending billions on IT projects.

Leader of the provincial opposition, Cameron Dugmore (ANC), said the provincial Broadband rollout was first marketed as a Public Broadband rollout for public wi-fi access, but has now become the Western Cape government broadband rollout.

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“With billions spent, we can safely call this project a failure, as it has done nothing other than to upgrade provincial government buildings infrastructure,” he said.

Dugmore said that despite the province’s promises to provide community wi-fi access in every ward, no community wi-fi spots had been set up.

Instead only some government buildings had offered public wi-fi access.He said the rollout was a failure to plan.

“What was once referred to as the mechanism to provide public wi-fi hot spots across the province, now seems to have been done so only in a limited way.”

Dugmore was reacting to the Department of the Premier’s increased budget allocation for 2022/23, which Winde said would involve R40 million being spent on fighting cybercrime.

During his speech, Winde announced that the department’s main budget allocation for 2022/23 would be R1.8 billion, a 4.6% increase from the 2021/22 adjusted budget. He said this would assist the province in risk mitigation.

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“By increasing our allocation towards risk mitigation, we will be able to prevent breaches and targeted cyber crimes, which pose a significant risk to the Western Cape government and residents who are becoming increasingly dependent on our digital channels,” he said.

Winde said that during the past year, two significant cyber-attacks were thwarted, but the province expected the attacks would increase due to a growing trend in cyber-attacks worldwide.

He said the department’s policy and strategy unit was commissioning research to map all youth and youth-at-risk programmes offered in the province.

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Winde said the unit was allocated R400 000 in 2022/23 for this project and was also working to pilot the [email protected] Schools behavioural programme to give young people the tools to regulate emotions, improve mental wellbeing, and reduce violence.

He also said the province would support local governments through earmarked funding for governance and legal advisory support to municipalities to promote stability after the 2021 municipal elections.

“This includes an allocation of R5 million for local government assistance, R2.5m for legal advice, and R2.5m for forensic assistance.”

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Responding to Winde’s speech, EFF MPL Melikhya Xego said although the province was empowered by the co-operative governance provision in the Constitution to work with local government in service delivery, it was not happening with regard to spatial planning.

“Instead, the two spheres of government would rather collaborate with each other and go to court to defend a decision to sell land at Tafelberg property instead of providing social housing for the less fortunate.”

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