The parliamentary portfolio committee on communications has selected two candidates for the vacant position of councillor at the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa).
The two final nominees are the controversial Marcia Socikwa and SABC group public affairs manager Nomonde Gongxeka. The names have been sent to communications minister Roy Padayachie who will make the final recommendation to the committee.
The process of selecting a councillor to fill the post at Icasa started late last year when the parliamentary portfolio committee drew up a shortlist of candidates.
Socikwa’s nomination will be met with surprise. She played a direct role in Icasa’s decision in 2009 to try to stop Vodacom’s listing on the JSE.
The portfolio committee came under fire during the interview process earlier this month for failing to question Socikwa about her involvement in the debacle, which sent the rand into a tailspin.
Vodacom’s 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 after coming under pressure from trade union federation Cosatu.
A high court battle ensued between Cosatu and Icasa on one side and government and Vodacom on the other. The court allowed the listing to proceed, but not before enormous reputational damage had been done to the country.
Democratic Alliance MP Natasha Michael has hit back at allegations that the committee did no do its job during the interview process of potential councillors.
She says early on during the interview process communications portfolio committee chairman Eric Kholwane ruled that Socikwa should not be questioned about the Vodacom fiasco as she was there to represent herself and not Icasa.
According to Michael, if any questions had been posed at Socikwa about her involvement, they would have been ruled out of order.
However, she says the chairman made the correct ruling. “It is not to say that we are not aware of her involvement and wouldn’t have liked to have answers. But in the end she didn’t make the decision alone; it was the Icasa council that made the decision,” she says.
Michael says the interview process was used as a means of checking candidates’ institutional knowledge of Icasa and how Icasa could be strengthened. “She really does have a good understanding of the regulator, and has some good ideas on how it can be given teeth,” she says.
However, Michael says the DA’s first choice for the candidacy of councillor is Gongxeka, and not Socikwa. Michael says Gongxeka has good institutional knowledge and was the only candidate interviewed who understood Icasa’s independence and that the regulator should act in the best interest of SA public.
According to Michael, Gongxeka was also one of the few candidates interviewed who had practical solutions to the problems facing Icasa.
Michael says that all the candidates interviewed for the position were of an exceptionally high standard. The others interviewed were Kathy Berman, Sadhasivan Perumal and Cornwell Dauds. — Candice Jones, TechCentral