Parliament is losing the highly respected chairman of its portfolio committee on communications. Ismail Vadi has been appointed as the new MEC for roads and transport in Gauteng, meaning he’ll have to give up his parliamentary duties as early as this week.
Vadi is on a study tour to Canada and the UK and could not immediately be reached for comment. However, Beverly Walters, executive secretary to the portfolio committee confirmed to TechCentral on Tuesday that Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane had appointed him to the provincial cabinet.
His loss to parliament is a big blow for the telecommunications and broadcasting industries. Vadi, who is regarded by many in the industry as incorruptible, was a hard worker, and gave poorly performing state-owned enterprises and even the department of communications a hard time over their performance — or lack thereof.
It’s not known yet who will replace Vadi as chairman of the committee but Walters says she hopes a decision will be made by the ANC chief whip in parliament before the end of the week.
Vadi, who is an ANC MP, has his constituency in Lenasia, south-west of Johannesburg. He’s been a parliamentarian since 1994 and served 12 years in the education portfolio committee.
In more recent years, he’s developed an interest in security and crime issues and has worked in parliament’s safety and security portfolio committee and in the joint standing committee on intelligence.
Born in Kliptown, near Soweto, the 49-year-old Vadi has lived in Lenasia for the past 45 years. Vadi, who forms part of the ANC’s leadership in Gauteng, first became involved in politics at Wits where he was a member of the executive committee of the Black Student Society in 1980 and 1981.
He later became involved in youth politics in Lenasia as an activist for the ANC-aligned Transvaal Indian Congress and the United Democratic Front.
Vadi then joined the Progressive Teachers’ League, a forerunner of sorts to the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu). He became national vice-president of Sadtu in 1990 and held that position until 1994, when he became a member of parliament. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral