The ANC takes the information and communications technology (ICT) sector seriously and is “more aware now than it has ever been of its crucial importance”.
That’s according to communications minister Yunus Carrim, who was speaking to TechCentral in an interview in Stellenbosch on Monday.
“At the ANC lekgotla this past weekend, this issue was raised in the infrastructure commission as crucial,” Carrim says. “I think business and civil society have badgered key officials in the ANC [to focus on this].”
He also says that as a member of the collective that is the ruling party, he takes responsibility for the poor state in which the department of communications finds itself.
The department has had five ministers in as many years is far behind schedule in many of its key projects, including migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television and opening up radio frequency spectrum for wireless broadband.
“I want to offer a word of caution,” Carrim says. “People tend to counterpoise me to my predecessors. I take collective responsibility for where the department is at the moment. I was part of the same government. I was deputy minister of cooperative governance & traditional affairs, but it’s the same elected government and I’m part of the same collective party.”
Industry players have broadly welcomed Carrim’s energetic approach to the sector and his deadline-driven work ethic. Many are privately expressing concern, however, that he may be a caretaker minister until the 2014 general election, after which he may be redeployed.
“There is unnecessary stressing over an individual here,” Carrim tells TechCentral when asked whether he is likely to stay on after next year. “I have no special expertise here. Some of my predecessors carried far more political clout than me and they found it a very challenging terrain.
“I’m a different personality, yes, and a different character, but it’s the same party. In short, what we would like to see is that whatever we do between now and May, it is taken forward by the incoming executive.”
He says he and his deputy, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, will move as quickly as possible to get things done between now and the election.
“We have made it very clear: our theme is fast-tracking those things that can be delivered by the election, but more importantly using that to set a firmer foundation for a more effective department of communications and creating the elements of a framework for the 2014-2019 term … so that, no matter who comes in, we will be able to move faster.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media