Communications regulator Icasa said on Tuesday that it is naming its new head office in Centurion, Pretoria after the divisive former minister of communications, Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri.
Icasa will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at lunchtime on Tuesday to celebrate the opening of the new offices. It moved into the new premises in October 2018 after 20 years at Pinmill Farm in Sandton.
“The opening of the head office in Centurion is another important milestone to ensure that we regulate in the public interest and continue the legacy of our leaders in the ICT sector. It will also assist us in getting closer to our stakeholders,” said Icasa councillor Keabetswe Modimoeng.
Matsepe-Casaburri, who served as minister of communications from 1999 until her death in 2009 — making her the longest-serving cabinet minister to hold the portfolio — was heavily criticised for being slow in liberalising South Africa’s telecommunications industry and for protecting Telkom from competition. The result, critics argued, was that telecoms prices in South Africa stayed too high for too long.
It was only in 2008, when Altech successfully challenged the late minister in court, that competition finally blossomed, and telephone and data prices started falling. The judgment meant that so-called value-added network service licensees (this included Internet service providers) could roll out their own telecoms networks for the first time, instead of relying on Telkom for infrastructure. It allowed cellular network operators to build their own backhaul networks to connect their base stations, instead of purchasing this capacity from Telkom, and later allowed companies such as fibre operator Vumatel to emerge to challenge the incumbent’s monopoly in fixed lines.
To her credit, Matsepe-Casaburri declined to take the judgment on appeal — possibly because there were few legal grounds on which she could do so.
Icasa said on Monday that the late minister, who played an instrumental role in the struggle against apartheid, had been “widely honoured for her accomplishments, including a special award from the African ICT Achievers Programme for her dedication to the proliferation of the ICT industry in South Africa and across the continent, and her promotion of the use of technology by governments to improve service delivery to citizens. She was one of the most successful, visible and accomplished women in Africa.”
Modimoeng said: “It is no coincidence that the Icasa head office is named after the struggle legend in Dr Matsepe Casaburri. She was and still is known throughout Africa as a leader in the applications of ICT for economic development, educational empowerment and the advancement of the cause of democracy. Her family will be in attendance as we honour one of the prominent and progressive leaders South Africa has ever produced within political space.” — © 2019 NewsCentral Media