The Democratic Alliance has made sweeping changes to its communications shadow ministry.
The changes have resulted in shadow minister Niekie van den Berg being demoted and replaced by the shadow deputy minister for justice and constitutional development, Natasha Michael.
Van den Berg takes over as deputy shadow minister of communications, replacing Lindiwe Mazibuko, who will head up the rural development and land reform portfolio.
The restructuring of the communications portfolio forms part of a broader restructuring of the shadow cabinet by the DA’s parliamentary leader, Athol Trollip.
Trollip says the party’s members have now had 16 months to bed themselves down in parliament. “And it was time for me to reassess the appointments I made,” he says.
According to Trollip, Van den Berg’s move to deputy shadow minister is not a demotion. “But I am sure his pride has been injured, and he will not likely be happy with the situation,” he says.
Trollip says he feels he may have thrown Van den Berg into the deep-end with his appointment as the shadow minister. “He still has a lot to learn about parliament and that is probably my fault,” he says.
Van den Berg had a long career in radio before he joined the DA, starting out in 1982 at the SABC. “Unfortunately, the [portfolio]is about more than just radio,” says Trollip.
He points to the legislative minefield the communications industry and portfolio have become.
“That is why I appointed Natasha [Michael] to the job,” he says.
Michael has a legal background and, according to the DA’s website, is in the process of completing an LLB. She finished her articles at a firm specialising in intellectual property and constitutional law.
“She will be better suited to dealing with the legislative framework, and she will strengthen the team,” says Trollip.
He says the DA is primarily concerned with the troubles facing the SABC. “We are very concerned that the SABC is turning into a mouthpiece for government,” he says.
Michael was not immediately available for comment on her new appointment. — Candice Jones, TechCentral