By Jeanette Chabalala for News24
Two multimillion-rand software and support contracts between the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and global giant SAP have been set aside.
On Tuesday, the Special Tribunal declared the contracts, which were signed in 2015 and 2016 respectively, “constitutionally invalid” and set them aside.
Judge Lebogang Modiba ordered the DWS not to use any of the software licences under the agreements.
She ordered SAP to pay the DWS R413 121 283.40 in respect of both contracts.
She added that within five court days of the date of the order, SAP has to pay the department R263-million.
In September 2018, a proclamation was published for the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe allegations that the purchase of the SAP licences for more than R500 million was not necessary and they were procured without the correct tender process being followed.
There were also allegations that R35 million in kickbacks were paid after the DWS procured the SAP service on 26 July 2016.
The SIU began work in September 2018 and immediately “uplifted” computers and documentation from the department.
The unit found that the contract value was approximately R950 million, excluding value-added tax (VAT), consisting of R450 million for the SAP licence fees, plus maintenance over five years.
It also found that no needs analysis was conducted and that there was no budget for the purchase of the SAP licences.
There was also no “virement” or approval of the payments to SAP.
The State Information Technology Agency (SITA) was not consulted and, in fact, SITA had advised the department against proceeding with the contract, News24 previously reported.
The SIU also found evidence that the 2015 agreement with SAP was irregular and ought to have been set aside.
The unit said it made “disciplinary referrals” to the department against two senior officials.
“The SIU was informed that [a disciplinary hearing] against one senior official has been concluded and judgment is expected within this week, while the DWS is considering disciplinary action against the other official. The SIU has also referred evidence pointing towards criminality to the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority), AFU (Asset Forfeiture Unit) and SARS. The referrals are in line with the SIU Act 74 of 1996,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.”
Across the world, cities are constantly looking for new ways to improve service delivery and enhance living and working ecosystems for citizens. It’s no surprise that many consider digital technology to be the ideal methodology to help deliver new public services, address existing problems, and reshape citizen engagement.
Digital technology holds the key to the successful transformation of cities. It can accelerate and enable economic prosperity and commerce, improve safety and security, and make a real impact on the quality of life for citizens.
According to the World Bank Report on Digital Citizen Engagement, the use of new media communication technologies presents exciting opportunities to improve communication between citizens and government institutions.
“Most of the cities’ operational processes are not citizen-centric. They are structured for the physical world and lack the human touch. It is clear that digital technology is shaping the way government engages with communities and can help cities in addressing or managing issues around service delivery,” comments Lawrence Kandaswami, MD, SAP South Africa.
Innovation forces public sector institutions to think differently about how to provide services, how citizens consume and share information, and how to engage with citizens. This requires an innovative digital platform with the relevant digital tools to meet all these needs and serve citizens better. SAP Digital Core for cities focuses on all these aspects and more. The technology is designed to help cities prosper, improve safety and security, and become more resilient.
How can technology help cities become more resilient?
One of the challenges that cities face is managing natural disasters such as floods. In many cases, drains get blocked due to the volume of heavy rains, creating blockages that prevent the rapid and safe diversion of the storm water. “With the help of technology, cities can now use digital technology to manage these risks. For example, by installing sensors in the drain system, the city can monitor water levels, detect any malfunction in the drains and allocate resources in real time to remedy the situation, before it hits disaster levels. The city of Dubai provides another good customer case study on resilience and saving projects costs,” explains Kandaswami.
Helping cities transition to digital transformation
Digital transformation allows cities to tap into their own data and transform that data into meaningful business insights and decisions. The use of technology can help cities to interpret, understand, plan, prioritise, and target specific problem areas to find the right solution. When we think about constituent engagement, the first thing to remember is that it’s not one-dimensional. Increasing numbers of citizens may want a digital channel – but that’s not every citizen. Innovation brings a new level of engagement with a digital experience. This means more citizens can take advantage of self-service functionality, instead of standing in long queues to pay for services.
Economic prosperity is every city’s ideal goal
The use of digital technology enables cities to engage citizens and service providers to help cities understand challenges like transport flow management, scheduling of resources, and budget allocations. Engaged citizens can communicate better with government and exchange important information that could help cities improve service delivery.
“SAP technology is a relevant digital option for cities because citizens need simple choices. The technology puts citizens at the heart of how a service is delivered, presented, and consumed. It is designed with the “Future Cities” in mind to take cities through the journey of digital transformation. Today’s citizens are looking for personalised services that are easily accessible. Citizens and government engagement should be part of the operational process with clear collaboration plans for the sustainability and economic prosperity of cities.” concludes Kandaswami.