It is common knowledge that the
Independent Communications Authority of South Africa lacks the
capacity -- in both its human and economic resources -- to
function properly in terms of its legislated mandate.
ICASA is known to be a "weak"
and under-funded regulator. This is one of the
reasons why South Africa could not attract the kind of
international investment it wanted for the Second National
Operator and competition in the telecommunications industry has
been critically delayed while Telkom tarrifs and profits have
Cabinet are today, we have been told,
discussing a Bill to amend the ICASA Act precisely to
attempt to rectify this problem. The ICT industry
is recognised as a fundamental national economic
driver and has been acknowledged as such by President Mbeki
in his State of the Nation addresses.
It is therefore astounding and
extremely disappointing that, today of all days, the
ANC majority in the Portfolio Committee on Communications in the
National Assembly decided, in the opinion of the
IFP, to ignore the law and propose to Parliament and the
President that a person unqualified for the position be
appointed as a Councillor of ICASA.
The ANC chose, yet again, to flex its
majority muscle, call for a vote, and totally ignore
opposition pleas for skills to take
precedence over the ANC's repeated quest to
In terms of the law, the ICASA Council,
"when viewed collectively" must be comprised of
persons who possess a various range of skills.
Today the ANC proposed Mr Mthobeli Mthunzi
Zokwe, a former ANC and COSAW organiser and coordinator, to fill
the vacancy on ICASA created by the departure of its chairman,
Mr Mandla Langa. The requirement of the law has not been
Mr Zokwe, for less than two years
(1997-1999), worked for the Department of Defence and, according
to his CV, directed related aspects of audio-visual production,
shows and exhibitions for the Department and dealt with matters
relating to transformation and communication strategies.
He then went on (1999) to manage safety
and security (under contract) for the athlete's village in
Alexandra Township for the games held there that year.
More recently Mr Zokwe (2000 - 2001) led
an unsuccessful BEE mobile satellite telecommunications
venture and set up a company which unsuccessfully attempted
to bid for a stake in the "BEE set aside" of
the Second National Operator.
The IFP regrets to have to so publicly
discuss Mr Zokwe but believes Parliament and the Portfolio
Committee on Communications cannot continue to pack the
ICASA Council (and the SABC Board) with, for the most part,
party political favourites while rejecting the kind of critical
skills available (and required by law).
A crippled ICASA is going to be disastrous
for the South African economy and consumers in general.
Experience has shown us that many
excellent and highly skilled candidates are short listed
for the sake of form but are continually thrust aside
and never seriously considered due to
their obvious lack of "political legitimacy"
or in many cases simply because they are white and not black.
This cannot go on.
We appeal to President Mbeki to refer this
selection process back to the Committee and to have it re-opened
For further information contact:
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