Communications Workers Union notes the process that has taken place thus far regarding the appointment of 6 Councilors to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa and the recent Parliamentary deliberations and report adopted by the Portfolio Committee on Communications.
As the Union representing workers who are directly affected by developments in the communications industry, we would like to warn against prolonged appointment processes, that would render ICASA non-functional and inquorate for a long time while the appointment process is subject to endless debates about the powers of the various role players in the appointment process, or the desirability of one or the other candidates to serve as a Councillor. We urge all parties to approach this matter with uttermost responsibility informed by the current legislated process.
We have no doubt that the process, as outlined in law, involves amongst others:
▪ Parliament publishing a call for public nominations
▪ Parliament undertaking the shortlisting of candidates and conducting interviews.
▪ Parliament forwarding one and half times the vacancies for the Minister to choose from in her consideration.
▪ The Minister choosing amongst the candidates that Parliament forwarded to her and forwarding the names back to the Parliament for appointment.
In our consideration, most of these steps were undertaken; however there were undocumented processes that were introduced as we went along that have clouded the issues and may possibly bring the entire process into disrepute and bring legal challenges. The first was the ranking of the candidates into a list of priorities. We unfortunately, note that this was the first time ever that the Parliament has ranked candidates and produced a priority list. It has never happened before as it should have been patently clear that such ranking and listing would impugn the discretion of the Minister in discharging her responsibility in accordance with the law. In simple terms, if Parliament has a preferred final list and the Minister cannot exercise her discretion in the appointment, then there is no role for the Minister except to rubber stamp Parliament’s decision. This in our view is against the expressed provisions of the law.
The second of such process is now the undertaking by Parliament to return the list back to the Minister on the account that Parliament is not happy that she chose 5 candidates that parliament had included in their priority list, and omitted or replaced the same candidate with another included in the list that Parliament forwarded to the Minister. We are of the view that this step will prolong the process.
It is our understanding that all the candidates forwarded to the Minister by Parliament are eligible to be appointed to serve as Councillors in terms of the law. If any candidate was not eligible to serve, Parliament should not have included such candidates in the list of recommendations. Having given the Minister the final list to choose from, Parliament cannot replace or impose its choice on the Minister if the Minister’s choices are not exactly those of Parliament. All that the Minister must do is to demonstrate that she has exercised her mind in deciding the final names.
It is against this background that we urge the parties to realise that the functioning of ICASA as a regulator of the sector, cannot be held back on the basis of disagreements about one or two names, that in this case are in the final list that Parliament forwarded to the Minister.
The potential for litigation is too big against the backdrop of the regulatory tasks that ICASA must perform without any cloud of doubt imposed on it, due to conflict ridden appointment processes.
If Parliament prefers more powers in the appointment process, it is in our opinion; open to parliament to amend the law and enshrine more checks and balances that would accord with the constitution and different roles of the 3 organs of government.
On SENTECH Board
Following the developments reported on media last weekend, surrounding the Presidency spokesperson, Ms Khusela Diko’s husband; King Madzikane II, that are linked to the awarding of tenders to the tune of R125m by the Gauteng Department of Health to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It was said that the Royal Bhaca scored two contracts worth R47m and R78m respectively, for the supply and delivery of PPE;s to the department.
CWU understands the matter is under investigation and there has been denial to these allegations. However, despite these denials, the President’s spokesperson requested to take leave of absence from all official roles in government, pending investigations on recent allegations involving her and her husband in tender irregularities in the Gauteng Department of Health. We are equally expecting the King Madzikane to do the same where he is appointed as a board member in particular (SENTECH), where we are organised. We, therefore, call for King Madzikane to recuse himself as the SOE board member.
Issued by the Office of the General Secretary
CWU General Secretary
Cell: 061 481 1080