Politicians from a cross-section of political parties on Tuesday failed to question Marcia Socikwa, a councillor at the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), over her role in the Vodacom listing debacle in 2009.
Socikwa is seeking reappointment to the Icasa council and was questioned by politicians in parliament on Tuesday about her suitability for the role.
But not one member of parliament questioned her over her involvement in a decision by Icasa to try to stop Vodacom’s listing on the JSE, a move that caused enormous embarrassment to SA and weakened the rand by up to 3% against the US dollar.
According to parliamentary journalist Paul Vecchiatto of wire service I-Net Bridge, who attended Tuesday’s interview, the portfolio committee on communications “failed to ask anything about allegations that Socikwa played a central role in the last-minute decision by the regulator to demand the 2009 Vodacom listing not go ahead”.
The listing, which was coupled with Telkom’s decision to sell 15% of its stake in Vodacom to the UK’s Vodafone for R22,5bn, was almost scuppered by Icasa, which reversed an earlier decision to sanction the deal. Former Icasa chairman Paris Mashile, who was out of the country at the time, was reportedly livid about the decision, as was then acting president Kgalema Motlanthe.
It’s believed that labour federation Cosatu exerted considerable pressure on Socikwa and other Icasa councillors to put a stop to the Vodacom listing. This led to urgent legal action, with Vodacom and the department of communications challenging Cosatu and Icasa in the high court.
The court allowed the listing to proceed, but not before enormous reputational damage had been done to the country.
In a column published by I-Net Bridge after Socikwa’s interview in parliament on Tuesday, Vecchiatto expressed disbelief at parliament’s failure to raise the issue in its interview with the councillor. “The committee totally failed in its role as an oversight body,” he wrote.
“ANC MPs completely ignored this reporter’s questions as to why this had happened, while Democratic Alliance MP Natasha Michael just said: ‘Oh, she just would not stop talking.’” — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral