Minister backs down, appoints sixth Icasa councillor - TechCentral

Minister backs down, appoints sixth Icasa councillor

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. Image: GCIS

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has relented in her fight with parliament over Icasa and has appointed a sixth councillor, Kgosie Matthews, to the communications regulator.

Ndabeni-Abrahams had voiced concern over the short-list given to her by parliament and had asked for permission to appoint only four councillors for now, instead of six, because, she claimed, she was concerned about the skills mix and competencies they’d bring to Icasa. This was rejected by parliament.

The minister last Friday appointed five councillors, instead of six, leading to harsh criticism from some quarters, including the opposition Democratic Alliance.

DA MP Phumzile Van Damme said on Thursday that Ndabeni-Abrahams has now written to national assembly speaker Thandi Modise informing her of her decision to appoint a sixth councillor.

“In the letter, the minister backtracks on her decision to only fill five of the six vacancies on the Icasa council, in contempt of two national assembly decisions requiring her to fill all six,” Van Damme said.

“Her backtracking follows the DA beginning the process to have her subjected to disciplinary action in parliament for contravening the constitution, the Icasa Act, the Executive Members’ Act and the Powers and Privileges Act,” she added, describing the minister’s conduct as “bizarre, unlawful and … nothing short of embarrassing”.

Meeting with Magashule

Meanwhile, News24 reported earlier on Thursday (subscription required) that the minister backtracked only after being summoned by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule to a meeting on Saturday where she was “instructed to obey parliament”.

Matthews’ appointment as the sixth councillor comes after the minister initially rejected his name, TechCentral understands. It’s not clear why the minister was not keen to appoint him. He is a former board member of the Post Office and chairs the board of the Ports Regulator of South Africa.

The other councillors appointed to Icasa are Keabetswe Modimoeng (who will service as chairman for a five-year term); Peter Zimri; Luthando Mkumatela; Yolisa Kedama; and Charley Lewis.  — (c) 2020 NewsCentral Media

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