The confusion continues: Where does ICASA belong?

July 3rd, 2014, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: EngineerIT, Featured: EE Publishers

 

When President Jacob Zuma announced his cabinet some weeks ago, the split of the Department of Communications (DoC) into the Department of Telecommunication and Postal Services (DTPS) under former spy boss Siyabonga Cwele and the DOC under Faith Muthambi raised many eyebrows.

The new DOC will take under its wing the Independent Communications Authority of SA ( ICASA), the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Government Communications and Information System, Brand SA, and the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA). The role of each of these entities is however at this stage unclear. Many have disparagingly dubbed the new DoC the “Department of Propaganda”.  However, Minister Muthambi says “there is no such thing”. When questioned about her new department and the various roles, she said that details of what the new department will be overseeing would appear in the budget votes that are planned during the next few weeks. Is she saying “I don’t really know what my job is but expect the president to tell me soon”?

Industry has been very vocal about the move and has been asking “What is President Zuma thinking?” First of all he ditched Yunus Carrim in favour of Siabonga Cwele, often referred to as SA’s spy boss. Carrim was making good progress in getting broadband issues sorted out and now we have a new minister who has very little or no background in communication. According to departmental sources he only met with his new department on Friday 20 June 2014.  So inevitably more delays in  sustainable broadband policy execution.

Moving ICASA to the new DoC is devoid of all logic

Meanwhile rumours are flying around that the president has had  a rethink about ICASA and has  moved ICASA back to the old DoC – now the Department of Telecommunications and Postal services. One can’t help thinking that the presidency does not understand the difference between the various portfolios. There is also a school of thought in the industry that ICASA should stand on its own feet with its own budget, perhaps as a Chapter 9 institution.

Where ICASA currently belongs nobody knows. The Authority declined to respond to our questions. Industry should  however have sympathy with  ICASA as it seems to be a ball that is being tossed around aimlessly!

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