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The Public Technologist

Issue 9, H1 2021

Iwrite this editor’s note feeling agreat deal of despondence at thecurrent state of affairs in SouthAfrica. The political landscape is – howshould I say it – one big, hot mess!People have lost jobs, the gap betweenthe ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ continuesto widen, and power utility Eskomis battling it out with US enterprisesoftware giant Oracle. Add to that,the testimonies at the Commissionof Inquiry into Allegations of StateCapture make one want to cry becauseit’s a stark reality of how deep rootedcorruption in this country is. And tomakes matters worse, we’re still in themiddle of a global pandemic.
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Covid-19 is very much our reality;it has been since that fateful day on5 March when the first local case wasconfirmed. Since then, we’ve been livingin a state of constant fear and anxiety,and death has become part of oureveryday lives. The current devastation in India and expectations of our ownthird wave looming leave us fearing forthe worst.
While our only hope is a solid Covidmass vaccination plan, it goes withoutsaying that the road ahead appears to belong and winding. In South Africa, we’vealready witnessed the slow uptake sincethe start of the Sisonke Programme inMarch. At the time of writing, only445 000 vaccinations had beenadministered to healthcare workersout of the 1.2 million that were initiallyprojected. In addition, when the onlineregistration system for the vaccineopened up to persons 60 and abovein April, it experienced a number ofglitches, with some registered usersindicating they hadn’t received theconfirmation SMS as stipulated. Andthose that did receive the SMS arestill in the dark about their vaccinationappointment date, despite phase twogearing up to begin.
My feelings aside, I truly hope SouthAfrica comes out the side of this, andthat government is able to inoculate the46.2 million South Africans by March2022 as stipulated.
For this edition ofPublic Technologist,incorporatingBrainstorm’sPublic SectorPriorities, we’ve managed to put togethera solid 2021 issue. We unpack the highsand lows of a Covid-influenced year, howthat has affected government’s budgetingand technology plans. We reflect on theyear where schooling from home becamea worldwide phenomenon, and take alook at the future of travel in what’s beenreferred to as a ‘post-Covid’ world. We alsolook at some topics that have been a keyfeature within the local ICT space, look atthe realities of South Africa’s imminentdata protection law as well as innovationsplanned by the national traffic law agency,RTMC. And of course, on top of everythingelse, 2021 is an election year, so we look atthe future of local government elections.The closing section of the publicationreflects the topics that the Public SectorICT Forum are keen to unwrap this year,namely, supporting and building smallbusinesses as the next big frontier of SouthAfrica’s economic recovery.
When people pull together, magichappens, and that is true of thispublication.
I trust you will enjoy reading this issuebecause we enjoyed putting it together foryou.

Happy reading!

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
Editor

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