The opposition Democratic Alliance has slammed cabinet for its decision not to support a proposed plan by Telkom to sell 20% of the company’s equity to Korea’s KT Corp.
In a prepared speech that would have been delivered in parliament on Tuesday — it wasn’t given after opposition parties walked out in an unrelated protest — shadow communications minister Marian Shinn says cabinet’s decision showed “reckless disregard by the majority shareholder for the value of this state asset and the role it plays”.
“This proposed deal was a superb opportunity for risk-free growth for our struggling and uncompetitive Telkom,” Shinn says. “But cabinet failed to grasp the deal’s potential for market and job growth, skills upgrading and infrastructure roll-out.”
She says the KT Corp deal would have fast-tracked the deployment of broadband infrastructure and helped communications minister Dina Pule meet her goal of connecting more South Africans to broadband.
“We slammed the door on that opportunity,” Shinn says.
She accuses the department of communications of being on a “bumbling path” that will “cripple” SA’s economic growth and prove to be a “major hindrance to the delivery of services by all spheres of government”.
“Perpetual policy reviews, workshops and expensive conferences give the impression of a cat forever chasing its tail, and a leadership incapable of grasping the issues and urgently making bold decisions.”
She says the department is “caught between the ideological obsession of controlling the outcomes of its misguided policies and putting in place an ICT ecosystem where the smartest and most innovative South Africans can apply their skills for our nation’s success”.
She also took issue with the department’s handling of the shift from analogue to digital terrestrial television.
“The minister is having the wool pulled over her eyes about the pace at which the SABC is migrating to digital broadcasting. In fact, the transition has hardly started.”
She says there is still “confusion” over whether SA will import the digital set-top boxes that consumers will have to buy to receive the digital broadcasts or whether they’ll be “restricted to the more expensive locally made ones which, contrary to the department’s advertising campaign, will not be available until the middle of next year”. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media