The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) pledged its support for the ‘Data Must Fall’ campaign aimed at getting telecommunication companies to reduce their high broadband pricing, and accused the network service providers of not having South African’s interests at heart.
The party said South African cellular companies have successfully infiltrated the African market, and that other countries in the continent had the political will and would not allow the networks to “abuse their people like they do to South Africans”.
“MTN is a South African company which does business in Nigeria and Kenya. Their tariffs are cheaper in the two countries than they are in South Africa,” the EFF said in a statement.
“Vodacom is a South African company with tentacles in Kenya but their tariffs are cheaper in Kenya than in South Africa. Pay-as-you-go [prepaid] data, which is largely used by the poorest of the poor, is more expensive than contract tariffs which are subscribed to by high-end customers.”
Industry regulatory body, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), which investigated the high tariffs in 2013, had made resolutions it could not enforce, the party said.
“Mobile operators themselves undertook resolutions they have not followed through, this because there is no government to hold them accountable. Instead, politicians are eyeing Vodacom shares rumoured to be on the market soon. We call on Icasa and the Department of Telecommunications to reign in these delinquent mobile operators to lower their tariffs with immediate effect.”
South Africans took to social media over the past two days, scorning cellphone networks for their high data tariffs. The #DataMustFall campaign was spearheaded by television and radio presenter Tbo Touch, real name Thabo Molefe. He announced on Thursday that he has been invited by Parliament’s portfolio committee on telecommunications to address them next week on broadband costs.
“Young people should be able to enjoy the benefits of e-learning by downloading textbooks online or catching up on a lecture on YouTube, but they can’t do that because everything revolves around data and WiFi,” Molefe said.
He said the service providers had 30 days to lower their pricing or face an exodus of subscribers to cheaper companies.
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