Chairperson, it is my pleasure to present a consensus report which enjoys the support of all the political parties in the Portfolio Committee on Communications.
Later this year, the terms of office of four councillors of the Independent Communications Authority of SA, Icasa, will be coming to an end. In terms of the Icasa Act, the committee has to process public nominations to fill these vacancies. The committee received a total of 91 nominations from the public, based on an advert that was placed in the newspapers. It eventually decided on interviewing 20 candidates. Unfortunately, two candidates withdrew at the eleventh hour.
Having conducted the interviews over the past few weeks, the committee reports unanimously that the following candidates should be recommended to the Minister of Communications for appointment to the Council of Icasa. They are - and this is not necessarily in order of importance - Mr John Matisonn, Ms Ntombizodwa Ndhlovu, Mr Joseph Lebooa, Ms Mankakane Violet Magagane, Mr William Currie, Adv Luthando Mkumatela and Dr Stephen Mncube.
Of course, the Minister will have to decide on four of the candidates and their respective commencement dates, as vacancies are staggered, and refer the matter back to the House for its final decision.
These candidates possess skills relevant to the ICT regulatory environment; more specifically they demonstrate expertise in broadcasting, electronic communications and postal policy, electronic engineering, law and journalism. The abridged CVs of these candidates have been loaded onto the parliamentary website, for members who may want to take a peek at that.
Candidates must also be committed to fairness, freedom of expression, openness and accountability, and must be representative of a broad cross- section of the population.
Chairperson, in considering this report, the committee wishes to bring two issues to the attention of the House: The first question is of disqualification of Icasa councillors and possible conflicts of interest as councillors perform their functions in the council.
Section 6(1)(f) and (g) of the Icasa Act states that a person may not be appointed as a councillor if he or she or his or her family member or business partner has a direct or indirect financial interest in the telecommunications or broadcasting industry.
Section 6(2) specifically states:
A person who is subject to a disqualification ... may be nominated for appointment as a councillor, but may only be appointed if at the time of such appointment, he or she is no longer subject to that disqualification.
Recently, our committee become aware that a currently serving councillor who was appointed late last year did not meet the provisions of section 6(2). Legal opinion, both from the Parliamentary Legal Services and an independent senior councillor from the Cape Bar, suggests that the appointment of the said councillor is invalid or of no force or effect.
The committee has called upon the Minister to institute appropriate remedial action as soon as possible, so as to rectify what is in effect an unlawful appointment.
In order to prevent a recurrence of such an irregular appointment this time, the committee explicitly questioned the candidates on their personal and their immediate families' financial interests. It also called upon them to declare any possible grounds for disqualification. The formal written response from each candidate on his or her financial interest was published in yesterday's Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports. The committee wishes to draw the attention of the Minister to this information before any final appointment is gazetted. Otherwise, we are going to be faced with a similar problem.
Secondly, Chairperson, in my previous report to the House, I indicated that the committee was not satisfied with the overall performance of the Icasa Council. I said then that we were continually receiving negative feedback on administrative inefficiencies, failure to process regulatory decisions on the basis of proper and legally defensible procedures, and the absence of organisational cohesion between the council and the senior executive management of Icasa.
The committee therefore called upon the Minister and the department to finalise the performance management system so as to monitor and evaluate the performance of the Icasa councillors and the chairperson, as this is a requirement of section 9 of the Icasa Act.
The committee can report that it received a draft framework on the performance management system for Icasa from the Department of Communications. It was not entirely satisfied with the proposals and referred the matter back to the department for review. We hope that this matter will be concluded shortly, so that each councillor can be held publicly accountable for his or her performance.
In conclusion, the committee therefore recommends that the report be approved by this House, and the names of Mr Matisonn, Ms Ndhlovu, Mr Lebooa, Ms Magagane, Mr Currie, Adv Mkumatela and Dr Stephen Mncube be referred to the Minister for his consideration. I thank you very much. [Applause.]
There was no debate.
Question put: That the House approves the following list of candidates to fill four vacancies on the Council of the Independent Communications Authority of SA:
Mr John Matisonn; Ms Ntombizodwa (Miki) Ndhlovu; Mr Joseph Morakile Lebooa; Ms Mankakane Violet Magagane; Mr William Hamilton Currie; Adv Luthando Simphiwe Mkumatela; and Dr Stephen Sipho Mncube.
Question agreed to.