Five months since taking up the role of State IT Agency (Sita) CEO, Bongani Mabaso has not changed his bullish attitude towards the provision of services for the largest employer and consumer of IT products and services in South Africa: the government.
“I’m optimistic,” he told TechCentral on the second day of the 2023 GovTech public sector IT conference taking place in Durban this week. “The potential is there and the ecosystem is the driver. We have to have the platforms in order to facilitate digital exchange, but Sita is set up to do just that.”
Sita’s role is to consolidate and coordinate technology resources to achieve cost savings through scale, increase delivery capabilities and enhance interoperability. And after several years without a CEO – the company had been placed into a form of administration by former communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams – Mabaso has taken the reins. Previously a senior IT executive at Standard Bank Group, he is promising to shake things up at Sita – by fixing what’s broken and focusing on service delivery to its government clients.
Mabaso is actively ramping up partnerships with other important state entities, not just with the private sector. “To that end, I met with the CIO of Eskom yesterday, and we are setting up public-to-public partnerships, not just public-to-private exchanges.
“We are hunting for partners – in cybersecurity, in warranties, in marketplaces, and in data and AI,” he said. “We want to share their platforms. This is not a typical relationship as no money is involved. What we are after is sharing value to build capability.”
He also hopes to commodify services by creating “super apps” to provide various solutions in the marketplace. For South African citizens, for instance, a super app could make provision for a driver’s licence, identity document, job recommendations and other personal documents in one place. “We’re working hard on that and hope to release something soon,” he said.
Sita and austerity
The fact that national treasury is threatening austerity measures given the recent slump of tax collections is not of great concern to Mabaso, although he admits there will be knock-on effects. “We have no budget and are completely self-funded, but some of our clients are funded by the state, so the reduced spending will be felt downstream.
TCS | Bongani Mabaso’s plan to fix the State IT Agency
“But at the same time, the number of procurement requests have increased massively. Government departments want more – we had 120 requests last month – and our procurement times are improving, so it all balances out.”
Addressing the issue of corruption skulking for so long in the corridors of Sita, Mabaso said achieving clean governance all depends on instituting the right culture. “We have just completed the first 100 days of a culture campaign to instil the values of corporate governance. We have signed off new terms of reference for committees and combed through policies, closing off gaps.
“In terms of procurement, manual procurement is ending as it’s easier to fiddle the books that way; and a system upgrade from Microsoft means clients’ orders can be tracked end to end. Internal audits are also being carried out that speed up procurement processes,” Mabaso said. – © 2023 NewsCentral Media
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