Communications minister Dina Pule has given interested parties additional time in which to comment on the controversial Icasa Amendment Bill. Those wanting to submit comments now have until the end of January to do so.
Previously, those wanting to make comments had 30 working days to do so from publication of the bill on 23 November 2012. Notice of the extension was published in the Government Gazette this week.
The amendment bill, which is years in the works and which proposes making sweeping changes to the way the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is regulated, has drawn heavy fire from the SOS Coalition, a civil society body which is focused on the public broadcasting sector in South Africa. The opposition Democratic Alliance has also lambasted the bill, with MP and shadow communications minister Marian Shinn describing the latest draft as “odious” and, read together with the proposed Electronic Communications Act Amendment Bill, suggests a “move to take away the powers of Icasa”.
Specifically, the bill has proposed watering down parliament’s oversight role in the appointment of councillors to the authority. The minister will now only have to consider the “recommendations” of the national assembly, whereas currently parliament identifies and interviews candidates and then creates a shortlist which is sent to the minister for approval, before her choices are sent back to parliament.
The SOS Coalition has accused Pule of raising the amendment bill “from the dead”, saying it contradicts her promise of a thorough review of information and communications technology policy, which, it says, was to have been finalised by the end of 2012. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media
- For more see: Icasa bill draws fire