Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn says fired communications minister Dina Pule won’t be missed by the technology sector, but the communist sympathies of her successor, Yunus Carrim, could prove problematic in a sector that thrives on openness and liberalisation.
It could be a particular problem for Telkom should the new minister choose to pursue the renationalisation of the fixed-line telecommunications company, Shinn says.
President Jacob Zuma axed Pule on Tuesday following a series of newspaper reports that raised serious allegations of impropriety against her. Pule also failed to meet a number of deadlines, including those for migrating South Africa from analogue to digital terrestrial television.
Shinn says Zuma was right to fire Pule because she failed to achieve much in her 20 months as minister. “She has stalled a lot of projects — Telkom, spectrum allocation, the set-top box tender process, the migration to digital television… The list just goes on,” Shinn says.
But she has reservations about Carrim’s suitability given his communist links. He serves at branch level to the South African Communist Party’s central committee and politburo.
“I understand he’s an ardent communist and a great fan of nationalisation,” Shinn says. “That may not be good for liberalisation and opening up of the market, both of which are so important for a fast-moving sector like this one.”
Carrim was, according to Shinn, involved in the creation of state-owned telecoms infrastructure company Broadband Infraco “and wanted heavy government involvement in it”. Infraco was the brainchild of another communist, former public enterprises minister Alec Erwin.
“This could also mean a heavier hand in the SABC, though one wonders how much heavier it can get,” Shinn adds.
A more immediate concern is what Carrim’s communist leanings could mean for the future of Telkom, she says. However, if he has the work ethic some have suggested he does, he may be able to “break some of the logjams” the sector faces, which would be a “major step forward”. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media
- See also: Zuma to Pule: ‘You’re fired’