GovChat site for sale – but there are some strings attached

The government’s official social media platform is for sale, probably to a foreign-owned multinational company.

But, first, the company will have to show it can predict when and where protests are likely to break out so that the police can be better prepared and, perhaps, supply the names and co-ordinates of the malcontents behind the demonstrations.

And the new owner will have to figure out how to turn a profit from analysing the data generated by citizens interacting with the government, while also rolling out the network around the continent.

That is the plan for GovChat, the almost entirely unknown and unused website, which, according to its marketing material, “is brought to you by the department of government communication and information system (GCIS)”.

In reality the GCIS, which reports to Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, only formally became involved in GovChat when it signed a memorandum of understanding with former government officialEldrid Jordaan in April last year. In terms of that, the government can use GovChat at no cost, but it must use it to convey “relevant information” to the public and encourage all local governments and councillors to use it.

In March this year, Jordaan approached several technology companies with a “request for tender”, which outlines a plan to establish a holding company in Mauritius to take control of GovChat in South Africa with a stake of at least 74%.



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