Provincial government red-faced after key strategy exposed as 'plagiarised'
A key strategy document — approved by the Eastern Cape provincial government — has, embarrassingly, been withdrawn after it was found to be a “carbon copy” of a foreign policy document drafted five years ago.
The provincial government said in a statement that steps had been put in place to “avoid a repeat of this embarrassing situation”.
It added that disciplinary steps would be taken against those involved in drafting the ICT strategy because “plagiarism is an act of misconduct, dishonesty and in this case, it has brought the provincial government into disrepute”.
The “Provincial Digital Transformation Framework and Strategy Plan 2020 — 2025” bears a striking resemblance to a document drawn up by the former Irish Labour Party politician Brendan Howlin.
The local strategy document was signed by Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane.
“The approval of the Eastern Cape provincial government’s ICT strategy by the executive council has been withdrawn following confirmation that parts of the strategy document from the foreword to other sections of the document were plagiarised,” Mabuyane’s spokesperson Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha said in a statement.
“The only part of the document that was not plagiarised was the implementation plan, projects to be implemented and location of the projects to be implemented as part of the strategy.
“When this information came to the attention of the premier of our province, Mr Mabuyane, he ordered an investigation to look into the matter and circumstances that led to the plagiarising of contents of another document, which was passed to the provincial government as the provincial ICT strategy.
“When plagiarism was confirmed by the investigation, at the instruction of Premier Mabuyane, the strategy document was withdrawn from all government institutions where it was submitted as required by the operational and reporting systems of government.”
The Daily Dispatch reported on Saturday that an analysis of Mabuyane and Howlin’s forewords in each document was telling.
Sicwetsha said it was back to the drawing board for the provincial government. He said the plagiarists will be brought to book.
“The executive council has directed that a new ICT strategy of the provincial government be developed with proper guidance and attention to the processes, contents of the document and teams that work on the strategy to avoid a repeat of this embarrassing situation,” he said.
“Disciplinary action will be taken against individuals who plagiarised this document because plagiarism is an act of misconduct, dishonesty and in this case, it has brought the provincial government into disrepute. Systems are being explored by the office of the premier to make it easy to pick up plagiarised documents.”