The department of communications is developing a performance management system for councillors at the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) in an effort to ensure the authority regulates more effectively.
“We are in negotiations with Icasa,” says communications department director-general Mamodupi Mohlala (pictured). “We started talks two or three weeks ago where we are putting in place a system in terms of the Icasa Act which will define the terms and conditions under which Icasa councillors are expected to perform during their tenures.”
Mohlala says the performance management system will soon be presented to parliament for debate.
“From the day an Icasa councillor walks into the job, to the day they leave, we want clear performance outputs and we want to ensure there is proper monitoring.”
Icasa has come under fire for the time it takes it to reach decisions and to promulgate regulations. It has also been slammed for poor decision-making, most notably recently when it decided to challenge Vodacom’s listing on the JSE at the eleventh hour in a move that sent the rand into a tailspin.
Mohlala says the department of communications will be responsible for monitoring councillors’ performance. But she denies this will undermine the authority’s independence, which is enshrined in the constitution.
“The act is clear that there should be no interference in any of the licensing decisions,” says Mohlala. “There will be no measurements in relation to licensing issues. I am specifically talking about regulatory issues and the work they have to do under the Electronic Communications Act.”
She says there is a pressing need for intervention in the short term to resolve the challenges Icasa is facing. “After that, we will take more of a back seat.”
DA shadow deputy communications minister Lindiwe Mazibuko says she welcomes the department’s plans to introduce the performance management system, adding they’re long overdue.
“Icasa has been ineffectual and … [the councillors have been] almost afraid of doing their work for fear of the industry they’re supposed to be regulating,” Mazibuko says. “Industry players have been able to abuse the situation.”
However, Mazibuko says it is important that parliament is given a role in monitoring the performance of councillors.
“This will help offset any political interference,” she says. “It is important that both the department and parliament are involved in overseeing the work that Icasa does.” — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral