Stephen Mncube is the new chairman of the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) and will serve a five-year term that will end in mid-2015.
Communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda made the announcement at a dinner in Sandton on Wednesday evening to mark the end of the sometimes controversial tenure of Paris Mashile. President Jacob Zuma ratified Nyanda’s decision to name Mncube, 70, to the top job.
“I have appointed Dr Stephen Mncube to chair the council of Icasa from 1 July 2010,” Nyanda told the audience, made up mainly of industry executives.
Mncube is a former Sentech chairman, and is also a former manager at the Development Bank of Southern Africa.
Mashile, 62, replaced founding Icasa chairman Mandla Langa in 2005. He was appointed by former President Thabo Mbeki on the advice of former communications minister, the late Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri.
Under Mashile’s watch, Icasa made a number of blunders, the most serious of which was the authority’s decision to side with trade union federation Cosatu to try to derail Telkom’s sale of 15% of its stake in cellular network operator Vodacom to the UK’s Vodafone in the courts. The move sent the rand tumbling.
However, to Mashile’s credit, he apologised unreservedly for the fiasco. And he had been out of the country at the time.
Mashile also enjoyed some successes, including the licensing of new pay-TV operators. More recently, he had been seen to be working to bring down mobile termination rates and leading plans to auction off valuable radio frequency spectrum that can be used for providing wireless broadband services.
Nyanda praised Mashile’s performance over the past five years and at the same time said government was determined to ensure the independence of the regulator and protect it from interference by the executive.
“Icasa’s independence needs to be respected,” Nyanda said. “Though government provides the policy framework, and though we want to influence things in the direction that advantages SA and its developmental goals, we are also a player in the ICT industry. We therefore cannot be a referee and a player at the same time.” — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral