Robert Nkuna is the new director-general of the department of telecommunications & postal services, replacing Rosey Sekese, who was “expelled” from her post after being suspended in 2015.
Cabinet ratified the decision to appoint Nkuna, who is a former councillor at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, at its scheduled meeting this week.
Nkuna takes over the crucial role at the telecoms department at a time when it is facing intense criticism from South Africa’s big telecommunications operators and from analysts over parts of the recently published national integrated ICT policy white paper.
That white paper, developed under the watch of acting director-general Joe Mjwara, has drawn fire over plans to create a single wholesale national wireless network to which all future mobile spectrum assignments will be allocated.
The policy document even floats the idea of taking back spectrum already allocated to companies such as MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom that they have used to build their 2G, 3G and 4G networks.
Although some organisations, including the Internet Service Providers’ Association, have broadly welcomed the policy, others, including MTN, Vodacom and Telkom, have warned that aspects of it risk damaging the sector and undermining investment.
It’s not immediately known if Nkuna will take a different approach to Mjwara as the white paper is adopted and turned into legislation. Nkuna couldn’t immediately be reached on his mobile phone for comment.
Nkuna’s appointment as permanent director-general comes 15 months after telecoms minister Siyabonga Cwele suspended Sekese from the position.
She was placed on “precautionary suspension” while the Public Service Commission conducted an investigation into “dysfunction” in the department.
Cwele said in the department’s 2015/2016 annual report, published in August, that over the past year, he has sought to understand the underlying causes of instability in the department.
“We are grateful for the support we received from the staff of the department and all partners in these processes, especially the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Special Investigating Unit. The department is implementing the recommendations that came out of these processes. The PSC recommended that we take disciplinary steps against the director-general (Sekese), who was expelled as the outcome of that disciplinary process.” — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media