Staff Writer 12 July 2020
Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has questioned the suitability of ICASA council candidates sent to her by Parliament, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
The report stated that the National Assembly provided Ndabeni-Abrahams with a ranked list of 10 candidates for positions on the ICASA council on 5 June, and instructed her to appoint six people.
The minister reportedly replied to Parliament with a letter on 30 June, questioning the suitability of the candidates and rejecting several of them due to their “lack of experience”.
ICASA plays a vital role in the South African economy – and ICT sector in particular – as it is responsible for managing the allocation of spectrum to mobile network operators.
Mobile network operators, including Vodacom and MTN, have been requesting new spectrum from the government and ICASA for years, as it will allow them to offer better mobile data coverage at higher speeds and lower prices.
ICASA’s allocation of spectrum will also determine how and when mobile operators can roll out their 5G networks in South Africa.
Vodacom, for example, said it used temporary spectrum from ICASA to fast-track the launch of its 5G network in May.
This latest news follows a report on 14 June that Ndabeni-Abrahams was facing an unprecedented stand-off with Parliament over the appointment of new ICASA councillors.
It was stated that the ranking of the candidate list was seen by the minister’s associates as an attempt to force her to align her choice with the views of the Parliament.