If President Jacob Zuma didn’t already have enough on his plate after Thursday’s constitutional court judgment, he has announced he is splitting the department of telecommunications & postal services into two separate departments with immediate effect.
It’s the second time the former department of communications has been carved into separate ministries.
Zuma’s shock decision means there will now be three government departments in charge of formulating policy for the information and communications technology (ICT) sector.
The move comes just two years after Zuma announced he would split the department of communications in two, creating telecoms & postal services as well as communications. He was roundly criticised by opposition political parties and sector analysts at the time.
Now, a new department of spectrum management & postal services will take responsibility for managing spectrum allocation and the Post Office, while the rest of the telecoms department’s functions will be folded into a newly created department of ICT and fibre-optic affairs.
The new spectrum management department is expected to issue a policy later this year on how spectrum will be awarded.
In a surprise move, Zuma has appointed Sahara Computers founder Atul Gupta as interim minister until a permanent appointment is made. Gupta, who will take the reins at the new ministry effective immediately, has been charged with fast-tracking the allocation of spectrum.
The ICT and fibre-optic affairs ministry, meanwhile, will be headed by short-lived finance minister Des van Rooyen, who moves across from co-operative governance & traditional affairs.
Faith Muthambi will continue as minister of communications, which still has oversight of the SABC and South Africa’s digital migration project.
The presidency has not provided any formal reasons for the decision to split telecoms & postal services.
Opposition parties have expressed outrage at the move, which they believe will lead to further paralysis in decision making by government on ICT issues.
Zuma, however, has already moved to justify his decision, saying in a television interview early on Friday morning: “Anyone angry about this is a real fool. Heh, heh, heh.” — © 2016 NewsCentral Media
- This was TechCentral’s April Fools’ Day joke for 1 April 2016