Wednesday, November 24, 2010

SASFED Executive Positions Decided

The new SASFED Executive Committee (previously known as Board) held it's first meeting this evening since the AGM. The following Executive Positions within the Executive Committee have now been filled, and we are thrilled to confirm:
  • Co-Chairs (for a 2nd term): Feizel Mamdoo & Kgomotso Matsuyane
  • Vice Chair: Marc Schwinges
  • Secretary (acting): Katleho Ramaphakela
  • Treasurer: Wendy Venter
  • Communications: Thandi Brewer
Additional board members are:
  • David Forbes
  • Eve Rantseli
  • Kenneth Kaplan
  • Michael Lee
  • Ramadan Suleman
The Executive Committee may still co-opt up to two extra members to the Exco.

Monday, November 22, 2010

SOS welcomes Minister's Review of the PSB Bill

The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition

22 November 2010

The SOS Coalition welcomes the announcement made by the Minister of Communications, Mr Roy Padayachie to review the Public Service Broadcasting Bill. The Minister needs to be commended for his openness and responsiveness to communication stakeholder concerns articulated most recently at the Department of Communications oral hearings on the PSB Bill in Midrand last week.

The SOS Coalition would like the Minister to Review the Broadcasting White Paper, 1998 and as part of this:
  • Review the research done on the Bill particularly as regards the Bill's proposed funding models for public and community media. As a starting point the Coalition believes a detailed economic modelling exercise should be conducted to ascertain the actual costs of delivering quality, citizen-orientated programming in the public and community media sectors. These costs need to be considered in the light of the new, digital multi-channel environment. We commend the Minister for committing to this.
  • Review the Bill's governance proposals to ensure that there are clear lines of accountability and that the Minister is not given undue powers to intervene in terms of management issues at the SABC and in the community media sector.
  • Ensure that the broadcasting sector as a whole deepens the principles of the Constitution including most importantly the Constitution's commitment to socio-economic rights.
SOS believes that at the conclusion of the process the Department will need to look at the new Bills that need to be drafted and the Acts and regulations that need to be amended. What is critical going forward is that we have policy, legislative and regulatory alignment - in the public interest. It seems from the Minister's statements that the Department is committed to this important goal. Again we commend him for this.

Going forward, the SOS Coalition hopes that the Minister will launch a swift, inclusive, consultative policy review process. SOS promises to assist the Minister and Department in whatever way is possible. Collectively we need to create a broadcasting sector that is substantially strengthened to deliver quality, citizen-orientated programming and information for all.

For more information:

Kate Skinner – SOS Coordinator – (082) 926-6404
Patrick Craven – Spokesperson Cosatu – (082) 821-7456
Matankana Mothapo – Spokesperson Communications Workers Union – (082) 759-0900
Oupa Lebogo – General Secretary Creative Workers' Union – (084) 511-8763
Siphiwe Segodi – Coordinator Freedom of Expression Network – (072) 655-4177
William Bird – Director Media Monitoring Africa – (082) 887-1370
Faiza Abrahams Smith – Director Misa-SA – (076) 995-9513
Kgomotso Matsunyane and Feizel Mamdoo – Co-Chairs South African Screen Federation – (082) 901 - 2000
Ayesha Kajee – Executive Director Freedom of Expression Institute

Padayachie pulls plug on broadcasting bill

Communications minister Roy Padayachie has withdrawn the controversial Public Service Broadcasting Bill pending further consultation, and wants to consider new models for funding the SABC and community media.

Padayachie's decision follows complaints from concerned groups at public hearings held in Midrand last week.

The draft bill had called for, among other things, the scrapping of TV licences and for an amendment to the Income Tax Act that could have resulted in up to 1% of personal income tax being set aside for public broadcasting.

"I am convinced much more can yet be gained by engaging in further work before a bill is presented to cabinet," Padayachie says. "I have thus decided to withdraw the current draft Public Service Broadcasting Bill."

He says in redrafting the bill the department of communications must consider the "developmental and democratic goals of the republic". For these to be best served, "it is imperative that our broadcasting policy is at the cutting edge of our digital age".

Also, broadcasting policy requires "wholehearted and energetic mobilisation of state, industry and societal role players".

Specifically, Padayachie wants a review of legislation and regulations to ensure "policy and legislative alignment and consistency". And he wants a review of "research done of funding options for the SABC and community radio" and an "economic modelling exercise" to "begin to look at SABC and community media costs and projected costs of digital migration in the sector".

The minister's decision to pull the plug on the draft bill comes in the wake of heavy criticism from broadcasting lobby groups.

Last week, the Centre for Constitutional Rights said drafters of the bill had misconstrued the public broadcaster's function and its role in the dissemination of knowledge.

The bill, which was released for public comment last October, aims to repeal the Broadcasting Act of 1999, to align the broadcasting system with the country's development goals.

M-Net and MultiChoice joined other concerned parties in calling for the draft bill to focus only on the crisis-stricken SABC.

The companies said the national broadcaster was in need of relief, and that issues in the draft legislation had to be narrowed down.

Karen Willenberg, director of regulatory affairs at M-Net, said the Electronic Communications Act was the key statute dealing with the licensing and regulation of the electronic communications sector.

"In its focus and purpose, the bill must find its place alongside existing legislation. It should only be dealing with issues of public broadcasting which require regulations over and above what is provided for in the Electronic Communications Act."

M-Net and Multichoice also highlighted the need for a strong financial model at the SABC.

Last week, Padayachie said he would fast-track the finalisation of the bill to deal with poor corporate governance and funding problems at the state broadcaster.

However, a civil society coalition said the bill contained fundamental flaws that could not be rectified by speeding up its finalisation.

Among other things, the bill intends to give the minister what some have called "far-fetched" powers, like authority over the SABC's finances and power to issue directives to its board.

In terms of the current Broadcasting Act, the minister is unable to interfere in the present crisis at the SABC and has no role in the appointment of executive members of the board.

The new bill called for the scrapping of TV licences and for 1% of South Africans' personal income tax be set aside for public broadcasting.

MultiChoice said the proposed one percent income tax funding was huge.

It proposed a public production levy of R250 to be collected by Sars during the tax submission period.
However, broadcaster said an alternative to funding should not further burden the public and that there should be appropriation from parliament.

The SABC currently has a mixed funding model. Figures from the 2009 financial year show that 64,3% of its revenue came from advertising, 18,2% from TV licences and 2,2% from government grants.

MultiChoice said because the SABC was a public broadcaster, it was there for the public good.

"It must be funded from state revenue, like education and health," said regulatory affairs manager Aynon Doyle.
Rhodes University's journalism professor Guy Berger said the SABC was competing with other stations instead of focusing on its core business, being a public broadcaster.

Staff reporter, TechCentral, with Sapa

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Press statement for immediate release

The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition

18 November 2010

The SOS Coalition welcomes Parliament's decision to extend the deadline for nominations to 6 December 2010. This will allow Parliament to hold its hearing with the SABC Board on 23 November. The Coalition is hopeful that at this hearing Parliament will finally be able to deal with the various corporate governance breaches that have taken place at the SABC. If the various oversight and governance structures including Parliament and the SABC Board are prepared to commit to good corporate governance and implementing mechanisms of accountability going forward, this will significantly assist in encouraging experienced people with integrity and commitment to stand for the SABC Board.

There is one further important issue that needs to be considered - we need to carefully look at the gaps in terms of representivity that have been created by the present resignations. As the Broadcasting Act presently states the members of the Board when viewed collectively need to "represent a broad cross-section of the population of the Republic" and need to collectively have a range of skills in broadcasting policy and technology, broadcasting regulation, media law and so forth. As civil society we need to analyse what the gaps are and nominate accordingly. It is also most important that the Portfolio Committee does an analysis of this situation so that the appointment process takes this into consideration.

For more information:

Kate Skinner – SOS Coordinator – (082) 926-6404
Patrick Craven – Spokesperson Cosatu – (082) 821-7456
Matankana Mothapo – Spokesperson Communications Workers Union – (082) 759-0900
Oupa Lebogo – General Secretary Creative Workers’ Union – (084) 511-8763
Siphiwe Segodi – Coordinator Freedom of Expression Network – (072) 655-4177
William Bird – Director Media Monitoring Africa – (082) 887-1370
Faiza Abrahams Smith – Director Misa-SA – (076) 995-9513
Kgomotso Matsunyane and Feizel Mamdoo – Co-Chairs South African Screen Federation – (082) 901 - 2000

Friday, November 12, 2010

New 2010/11 SASFED Executive Committee & AGM Initial Report

On Tuesday the 9th of November SASFED held its AGM at Atlas Studios in Johannesburg.

The below were confirmed as the new SASFED Board, now known as THE SASFED EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE for the 2010/11 year.

The first meeting of this new executive committee is scheduled for the 24th of November 2010, and at this meeting the executive positions within the exco will be decided and announced soon after.

The more than 5 hour SASFED AGM started with some important resolutions which will be published with the minuets of this meeting soon. One of the most important resolutions was to adopt a BRAND NEW SASFED Constitution. The constitution was unanimously adopted with a few changes, which are currently being done, after which the final version will be published on the SASFED web site.

The actual election therefore took place in terms of the NEW constitution and all voting was by the Council (formally known as the Committee), which essentially is made up of the mandated voting member or each of the industry organisations who makes up SASFED.

NameSurnameOrgs Mem/BoardNominaited
DavidForbesDFA & IPOPascal & 2nd Thandi
EveRantseliWOS BoardKgomotso & 2nd Pascal
FeizelMamdooDFA & IPORehad & 2nd Pascal
KatlehoRamaphakelaWGSA BoardKgomotso & 2ndThandi
KennethKaplanIPORehad & 2nd Dan
KgomotsoMatsunyaneIPORehad & 2nd Pascal
MarcSchwingesDFA Board & IPOReahd & 2nd Pascal
MichaelLeeDFAThandi & 2nd Pascal
RamadanSulemanIPO BoardDan & 2nd Rehad
ThandiBrewerWGSA BoardThea & 2nd Pascal
WendyVenterOSCA SA BoardThandi & 2nd Thea

It was agreed at the AGM that we will second 2 extra members at the first SASFED "Exco Meeting".

Pictures of the AGM appear below.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Media Briefing Statement by Minister of Communications Roy Padayachie

11 NOVEMBER 2010


Members of the Media present and Executives from State owned enterprises, friends and colleagues, let me first express a warm welcome to all for having accepted to be present for this Media Conference.

The Minister, Radhakrishna Padayachie (Roy) and Deputy Minister, Obed Bapela have been in office for approximately 11 days. In the course of this period, we have been approached by many journalists who have requested interviews and who have many questions and concerns that they wish to have engaged us on. We must apologise for having turned down these requests in favour of us convening this media briefing which affords us the opportunity face to face to share with you our thoughts on how we wish to implement our work in the DoC. In the first few days we have had to first discuss and receive a handover report from Minister Nyanda and Deputy Minister Pule, the Acting DG, Dr Wesso and the senior leadership of the DoC before we could engage with the media.

Our only regret is that we have not as yet organized an opportunity to meet with the Top Management and the general staff of the DoC, we apologise to the staff and must assure team Doc that this will be done in the coming week.

To the colleagues in the media, I assure you that the Minister and Deputy Minister believe in the principles of freedom of the media. We assure the media that we will always respect the right of the media to engage openly and transparently. It is our view that the media is a critical force in the development of society and has a positive and leading role to play in educating the general public about the importance of ICTs in the advancement of society’s goals and the creation of a better life for our people.

We believe the Ministry / Department of Communications cannot function as an entity in isolation from the people it is there to serve. It is for that reason that we have sought to host this media conference on site here at the DoC. We have invited you here at the DoC to demonstrate to you that the DoC is open for business. We want to do things differently- working faster, harder and smarter. It is our desire that the DoC will understand and implement a culture of public service that is selfless and capable of sacrifice, knowing where people live, what they want and be ever ready to commit to delivery of the best service our people want.

Public servants, in the public service are absolutely important in our plans to deliver a more efficient DoC. Without caring and committed public servants the DoC will not be able to fulfill this mission.

In the past week, I have been enormously encouraged by the overwhelming response we have had by the staff of the DoC to our appointment. There is both a sense of joy and the emergence of a great spirit of unity amongst the staff, from the general staff to the specialist technology experts in the department. We appreciate this and both Minister and Deputy Minister wish to acknowledge the warmth that team DoC have demonstrated and have responded to the call to bring a wave of positive change. The spirit demonstrated by this conduct reminds us how true the slogan is when we say “working together we can do more”.

We are equally encouraged by the enormously positive response that we have received from the general community, the leadership and companies in the ICT sector. Likewise, the colleagues in Parliament, both from the ruling party and members from the opposition have also been very supportive and encouraging.

We take this opportunity to express our appreciation for the contributions made both by General (Ret) Siphiwe Nyanda and Deputy Minister Dina Pule.

Having consulted with the senior leadership in the DoC, under the leadership of the Acting DG, Dr Wesso, we have now consolidated our approach to the kind of interventions that we would like to make in the work of the Ministry in our programme going forward.

The perspective by which we are guided is determined by implementing activities that we will be initiating within 30 days, 3 months and 12 months period. We have identified six critical pillars to our program that will establish a new platform, creating the necessary wave of change that will lead us to actualizing the vision that the DoC has set for itself, that is to be a

Global Leader in the Development and use of ICTs for socio economic development and the betterment of People’s lives,

the foundations of which can only be achieved through building a people-centered inclusive information society in a sustainable world class ICT environment.

In this context, Cabinet has called upon us to initiate programmes and activities that support the building of a new economic growth path for the country. We seek to guarantee that ICTs will make its substantive contribution as an enabler for economic growth and the creation of new jobs and skills amongst our people as we strengthen the foundation for a knowledge based economy.

1. The first thrust of our intervention is the reconstruction and development of the Department of Communications (DoC)

  • Improve our performance through more efficient and effective leadership, internal communication, planning and budgeting, risk management, staff performance management, information management and process redesign.
  • Appoint the Director-General and senior management in the next three months so as to stabilize the leadership of the Department.
  • Initiate a change management programme, which also deals with transformation matters. A Transformation Committee has already been established.
  • Finalise the institutional review process and fill all vacancies within six months.
  • Align departmental programmes to MTSF goals and the twelve Cabinet Outcomes

2. The second thrust of our intervention would be to stabilize the public entities within the Portfolio


  • Our first priority would be to stabilize the leadership within the South African Broadcasting Corporation and to address its programme of work that will resolve its financial liquidity problems and guarantee that the Corporation will deliver programme content in tune with the needs of the people. What we need is a public broadcaster that functions competently. We will therefore work closely with Parliament, the Chairperson of the Board, the Board Members, its Executive Leadership, the Executive Management and general staff of the Corporation with a view to finding solutions to the problems besieging the Corporation. This would include, amongst others, the finalization of the turnaround strategy and the creation of stability within the Board and the Corporation.
  • Furthermore, we will, in dealing with the challenges facing the Public Broadcaster, accelerate the finalization of the Public Service Broadcasting Bill. The main purpose of this Bill is to repeal the Broadcasting Act of 1999, so as to align the broadcasting system to the developmental goals of the Republic. This Bill will also deal with corporate governance matters in general. We envisage that this Bill will be submitted to Cabinet during the first quarter of 2011. Due to huge public interests in the contents of the Bill, the Department will, from the 15-17 November 2010, conduct other public hearings to solicit further input on this critical issue.


  • With regard to Sentech, the Chairperson of the Board resigned at the end of October. I have accepted this resignation with immediate effect. I have therefore appointed an Acting Chairperson of the Board in the person of Ms Leah Khumalo who is a practicing attorney and member of the current Board. We will be working closely with the Board of Sentech to ensure that senior management positions are filled within the next three months. I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Mr Quraysh Patel, the outgoing Chairperson, for the service that he has provided to the organization. He has assured me that he will continue to avail himself and give support to the work of Sentech. I also take the opportunity to welcome the new CEO of SENTECH, Dr Setumo Mohapi who joined the organization as of 1 November 2010.

  • For the effective functioning of the ICT sector, the Regulator, ICASA, must be strengthened and, at all times, function with confidence and independence. Efforts to strengthen its capacity will include measures to enhance its technical and financial competency. In this regard, we will actively support and promote its collaboration with the international institutions, such as the International Telecommunications Union During the first half of 2011, an ICASA Amendment Bill will be finalized and submitted to Cabinet for approval for introduction to Parliament.
  • In addition, the Department has begun with the process of developing a performance management system for ICASA as required by the law. We will therefore, during this month finalize our engagements with ICASA on this matter. We hope that the system will be implemented from the 1st April 2011.


  • Universal service and access to ICTs remains our priority. In this regard, the role and capacity of the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) will be strengthened to ensure that it deals with the universal service and access issues for the entire ICT sector including postal matters. We are, as part of amending the Electronic Communication Act, strengthening the role, powers and functions of USAASA.
  • We will accelerate efforts to align the programmes of our state-owned entities with that of government, so as to ensure that SOEs remain the strategic implementing agencies of government.

a. The third thrust will involve forging partnerships with the private sector, academia, civil society organizations and labour

These sectors provide enormous potential for the mobilization of intellectual capital and investment partnerships. We will extend an open invitation to enter into a development partnership with the different sectors to reconstruct and develop the ICT sector.

In the coming weeks we will initiate a series of round table discussions with the different sectors. The first of these initiatives have already been done with the broadcasting industry. The next would involve a round table with the CEOs and Chairpersons of the top 30 ICT companies in the country. Our focus is to ascertain the receptivity to the invitation, to discuss an agenda for such an engagement and to construct an appropriate platform for continuous dialogue.

4. Within the next 12 months, the Department will focus on the following strategic priorities

4.1 Building an integrated National Broadband Plan

  • Building an efficient, competitive and responsive ICT infrastructure network is critical to propel South Africa into a knowledge-based economy. This would require that government continue to implement a programme to ensure the liberalization of the ICT sector in order to promote competition, In this regard, we continue to implement interventions aimed at promoting appropriate cost structures in the ICT sector. We also note the significant progress made in addressing the mobile termination rates. The Unbundling of the local loop remains a critical and important intervention. In this regard we will work closely with ICASA to ensure that the local loop is unbundled by November 2011.
  • The digital technologies such as broadband are increasingly becoming an instrument to achieve the national development goals. They offer opportunities to create a variety of new applications. Broadband, and its faster “always-on” connections, is serving to accelerate the process of integration of Internet technologies into everyday life.
  • The creation of new applications not only needs large pipes and suitable technological infrastructure, but also an appropriate strategy for service evolution, and an adequate environment for the creation of new content. With digital technologies, the variety and quality of specialized applications — for instance online entertainment or educational material — are set to increase dramatically. The future should be about innovation with a view to take advantage of the new technologies.
  • The creation of new applications defines and challenges how content should be regulated. Hence the policy gears itself to ensure that there is an appropriate regulatory environment to regulate digital content. The development of new applications should be promoted. Such efforts will ensure that the development of a competitive ICT industry in general is not compromised.
  • Improving and increasing access to government services offered online remains a strategic objective of Government. To realize this objective, there is a need to develop and promote open, simple and secure online e-applications and content bringing new experiences to the citizenry in general.

4.2 Building a people-centered inclusive Information Society and Knowledge Based Economy
  • Develop South Africa’s ICT infrastructure, skills and regulatory regime so that all South Africans are able to take full advantage of economic, educational and social opportunities offered by the emerging Information Society and Knowled Based Economy.
  • Develop programmes and projects to promote the uptake and usage of ICTs on a national scale and contribute to bridging the digital divide.
  • Operationalise the e-Skills Institute to lead and be the catalyst to e-skilling the nation for equitable prosperity and global competitiveness that is so vital to our future growth.
  • The Information Society and Development Multi-stakeholder Forum which was established this year as a platform of engagement for reviewing the implementation of the WSIS Outcomes as well as the ISAD Plan implementation by government, business and the civil society. The Forum is a Partnership for Development Initiative which discusses key developmental initiatives and programmes for building a people-centred, inclusive information society and knowledge based economy. Several partnerships with the private sector, academia, and civil society have been initiated.
  • Establish an internationally appointed Advisory Panel for ICT development in South Africa. This could be a conduit to receive best global experience in our policy practice and implementation for the ICT Sector. Our focus will be on identifying the niche areas in the ICT value chain for South African companies and to facilitate the emergence of global brands for the South African ICT Sector.

4.3 Regulation and convergence
  • Ensure that regulations in the telecommunications sector are in the interests of South African consumers, businesses and more broadly in the economy.
  • We therefore recognize the need to develop an appropriate policy and regulatory environment in order to enhance the role of ICTs in advancing the achievement of the national developmental goals. In this regard, a national colloquium on the development of the National ICT Policy Framework will be convened during the first quarter of 2011. The Policy Framework will chart a long-term vision for the ICT sector and its contribution to the economy. The colloquium will be a high level dialogue initiative for key stakeholders to identify and harmonize the institutional and sectoral issues with respect to the development and application of ICTs in South Africa, as well as the key policy issues that need to be addressed.
  • We will also continue with efforts to clean the Electronic Communications Act so as to clarify and strengthen the role, powers and functions of the Minister and of ICASA. In this regard, we will, in the next few days, publish the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill for public comments.

4.4 Spectrum management
  • Work with ICASA and industry to maximize the efficient management and utilization of national radio frequency spectrum assets to maximize the benefits to South African consumers and industry.
  • The deployment of ICT infrastructure is dependent on how effective and efficient the country is in regard to the management of the radio frequency spectrum – a natural scarce resource. As technology evolves, the country should adopt technologies that are efficient in the usage of the spectrum. In this connection, measures to ensure efficient use of radio-frequency spectrum to meet the developmental objectives shall be accelerated.
  • Publication of draft policy directions for public comment on spectrum for broadband applications, radio spectrum usage and spectrum pricing are being considered.

4.5 Cyber Security

  • Create awareness and provide education about cyber-safety and e-security issues in the community.
  • Undertake research and consultation to inform policy and deliver programs that better protect South African internet users.
  • In an increasingly knowledge-driven and networked world we are prone to external interceptions that are in breach of lawful online conduct, all of which could lead to an erosion of trust and confidence, it is important that measures are undertaken towards creating an awareness of what is desirable and building capacities for the same and by the establishment of an enforcement and compliance regime. An environment of trust and confidence in ICT, particularly the Internet, is an essential pre-requisite for ICT uptake levels to rise.
  • A National Cybersecurity Policy has been formulated which is a synthesis of reactive and proactive measures towards building information secure society.
  • Whist this policy acknowledges the initiatives taken to develop and implement e-commerce, in going forward, such a policy must be strengthened with a well-established information security system so as to create confidence in the use of the system.
4.6 Broadcasting Digital Migration

  • Digital migration remains a key project of the Department. With regard to the implementation of the digital migration policy in South Africa, our programme will focus on finalizing the set-top box manufacturing strategy, the scheme for ownership support for poor TV owning households and the local and digital content development strategy. We envisage that this will be submitted to Cabinet for approval during the first quarter of 2011.
  • Within a month from now we will also pronounce on the country’s position in relation to the digital terrestrial television standard. The finalization of this matter will assist in accelerating the implementation of broadcasting digital migration in South Africa.

4.7 ICTs and Climate Change

  • Take the necessary measures to reduce the effects of climate change by developing and using more energy-efficient ICT devices, applications and networks and through the application of ICTs in other fields
  • Promote recycling and the re-use of ICT equipment.

5. Major projects

5.1 e-Skills Institute

  • Technology aware human capital is regarded as the driving force behind technology innovations anywhere in the world. The ICT industry is knowledge intensive and driven essentially by the need for low and high-end skills.
  • Therefore the development of an ICT skilled labour force in terms of quantity and quality is crucial. If the country is to increase both the quantity and quality of an ICT skilled labour force, we need to initiate, review and strengthen the current interventions for immediate results through making available outputs that are compatible with industry requirements.
  • A process is under way to have the e-SI established as a legal entity and as an accredited educational institution of higher learning.
  • High Profile National Seminar/Lecture Series at Regional Knowledge Production Hubs and the e-SI nationally will commence during the 2011 academic year.
  • The following three to five months will see the implementation of three e-SI Regional Knowledge Production Hubs; the ICT knowledge and infrastructure design to support virtual offerings; Curriculum development; ie. e-skills for digital inclusion; e-skills for rural development; e-skills for e-democracy; e-skills for business; e-skills for teaching and learning.

5.2 ICTs and Rural Development

  • The deployment of ICT infrastructure should bring with it significant benefits to the consumers in terms of enabling the provision of services by multiple operators possible. Less duplication of ICT infrastructure will ensure increased competition in the provision of affordable services to the majority of the population, thus encouraging competition in the sector.
  • Due to the fact that ICT infrastructure is biased towards urban and affluent areas in South Africa, there is a need to continue with universal access and service programme. Currently more electronic communications network service licensees have been licensed. It is for this reason that the approach to universal access and service should be reviewed to reflect the current realities.
  • The Department of Communications recognizes that the big challenges facing Government, particularly as it relates to the ICT sector’s role in rural areas, are the accessibility of appropriate ICT infrastructure to the majority of people as well as the affordability of ICT services including broadband and internet connection.
  • The Department will finalize the ICT Rural Development Strategy by March next year. The implementation of the strategies will see the further roll-out of an additional 90 Digital Hubs throughout the country in under-served areas, support the establishment of 23 new e-Cooperatives with a focus on unemployed youth graduates recruited from rural areas and the finalisation of an e-Commerce portal for Small scale farmers to ensure online trading of agricultural products during the financial year 2011/2012. In addition, 19 low power transmitters will be built to afford about 5 million inhabitants access to television services. Rural technologies such as wireless technology infrastructure is considered as a means of bridging the rural-urban divide in South Africa.

5.3 Corporatization of the Postbank

  • The Department will continue with the programme to corporatise the Postbank. In this regard, we will, within a month, develop a road map towards the implementation of the Postbank Bill. We envisage that the Bill will be signed into law. We will fulfill the mandate of Government in bringing services to the people.

5.4 E-Connectivity and 2010 Legacy

  • The e-Health Connectivity Plan supports the establishment of national health network infrastructure (VPN) in order for the improvement of health care services as well as to improve the health status of South Africans. The Plan is currently being discussed with stakeholders in the health sector and human development cluster of government. In support of the integrated infrastructure planning, this initiative is aligned with other connectivity initiatives especially in relation to education. The Plan will be finalized for submission to Cabinet by March 2011.

5.5 Local and Digital Content Development Strategy

  • The development of local content has the potential to contribute to a new industry focus. In this regard we will accelerate the finalization of the Local and Digital Content Strategy for South Africa.

5.6 International Relations

  • South Africa has been blessed to be awarded a seat on the ITU Council. We look forward to ensuring that South Africa remains committed to the world and will build a strong partnerships for policy development with UNDP, UPU, UNESCO, WHO and OECD.


We have an amazing opportunity before us. Working together and by joining hands we could become the change we want to see.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition

Acting Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Communications
Mr. Sikhumbuzo Eric Kholwane

9 November 2010

Dear Mr Kholwane

Request for an extension for the nominations to the SABC Board until after Parliament's hearing into governance crises at the SABC

The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition notes that Parliament's scheduled hearing for 10 November 2010 focusing on the SABC's governance crises and turnaround strategy has been postponed. However, SOS believes that this hearing is critical to dealing with the crises at the SABC. We submitted a letter to Parliament on 4 November outlining the various governance crises we felt Parliament needed to attend to. We are now worried to hear that this hearing has been postponed. We hear that the date has been set for the 26th of November.

SOS believes that this makes it very difficult for civil society to put forward people with integrity, experience and expertise to sit on the SABC Board. We believe that this situation would be substantially eased if the nomination period could be extended to after the Parliamentary hearing. As communicated in our letter on 4 November, we would like Parliament to deal with the following issues:

  • The resignation of four SABC Board members. SOS notes that the public has yet to find out what their reasons are. SABC Board members are tasked with the critical role of oversight of the SABC in the public interest. We are deeply concerned that the conditions within the SABC have deteriorated to the point that members have felt that they have no option but to resign. We feel that the general public have the right to know what these reasons are and that their letters should be tabled for discussion at the Committee. Further, we believe that exit interviews should be conducted with all four board members to ensure that lessons are learnt for the future. We believe that the major principles discussed in these letters should be made public.
  • The ongoing corporate governance breaches at the SABC. SOS has noted several serious corporate governance breaches that have taken place at the SABC since the beginning of 2010. SOS has noted that to date the Portfolio Committee has not called the Chair - or members of the Board - to task in this regard. These include breaches of corporate governance around:
    • the critical appointment of the Head of News,
    • a decision to employ an external candidate to the Acting CEO position despite the fact that the SABC's Articles of Association disallow this (the decision was later reversed),
    • the Chair of the Board's refusal to sign the delegation of authority document as regards the appointment of Acting CEO, Robin Nicholson, creating a legal crisis where the SABC was effectively operating without a CEO; and
    • the Chair's unilateral decision to announce on SABC TV and radio that there were problems with the appointment of an Acting CEO and that he hoped to bring back suspended CEO, Solly Mokoetle.
  • SOS respectfully believes that the Committee should deal with these corporate governance breaches through:
    • Thoroughly airing the issues that lead to these corporate governance breaches, calling members associated with these breaches to book and getting a public commitment from all Board members that in future they will scrupulously adhere to good corporate practices and protocols.
    • SOS believes that the role of the Chair in initiating many of these corporate governance breaches is so serious, that he should be called on to resign – or should be removed by the Appointing body including Parliament and the President.
  • The problematic role of Parliament in stemming the crises. SOS notes that in May 2010 Board members publically stood up and announced that a serious corporate governance breach had taken place at the SABC as regards the Chair’s unilateral appointment of the Head of News. Further, Board members announced that there had been an irretrievable breakdown of trust between themselves and the Chair. Since that date there have been many unsuccessful attempts by Parliament to address the issues. Hearings have been delayed, called behind closed doors etc. SOS would like Parliament to examine its own role in not stemming the deepening crises at the SABC. Again today we are waiting for Parliament to hold its hearing.
  • Finally, problems with gaps in the Broadcasting Act, 1999 that continue to cause crises around the appointment of executive members to the SABC Board. SOS raised this issue in 2008 during the Broadcasting Amendment bill process. SOS suggested that a clause should be added stating that accounting lines need to be clarified to ensure that executive management is appointed solely by the Board. SOS urges Parliament to swiftly deal with this issue so that crises around appointments can finally be laid to rest.

SOS believes that if these issues are comprehensively addressed during Parliament's hearing, it will make the nomination process substantially easier. It will encourage people to put themselves forward for nomination. This hearing is critical. We believe that the deadlines for nominations need to be extended. Please do get back to us at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely

SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition

Mokoetle hearing in camera

Nov 8, 2010 11:16 PM | By KHETHIWE CHELEMU

Disciplinary proceedings against suspended SABC CEO Solly Mokoetle took place behind closed doors at the Arbitration Board of SA in Sandton yesterday.

Mokoetle was suspended in September, following claims by the board that he failed to provide a turnaround strategy for the public broadcaster.

The embattled SABC board has brought 24 charges against Mokoetle - including one of failing to bring disciplinary action against acting group chief operations officer Charlotte Mampane for allegedly eavesdropping on one of their meetings.

The other charges are yet to be revealed.

The Times understands that the chairman of the hearing, advocate Karel Tip, ruled that no details of the hearing be revealed to the media.

Appearing calm and backed by a team that includes senior advocate Jurgens Bekker and attorney Bongani Dlodlo, Mokoetle joked with the media during breaks.

"It is still a long way to Damascus," he said.

The proceedings are likely to proceed in camera for the next seven days.

The board of the state broadcaster has been plagued by infighting.

Four board members have resigned as a result and lobbying has begun among the ANC and its alliance partners about who will fill their positions.

Last week, the Cosatu-led pressure group Save our SABC said it does not want a call for nominations to the SABC board until SOS's conditions have been met.

SOS is demanding that the chairman of the SABC board, Ben Ngubane, either resign or be fired. The group also wants parliament to deal decisively with alleged breaches of corporate governance at the SABC.

These include, SOS says, the appointment of the head of news Phil Molefe, and the board's decision to appoint an acting CEO from outside the corporation in violation of the articles of association of the broadcaster's board.

The group wants the remaining board members - including executive members of the board who are part of the management team - to commit themselves publicly to scrupulous adherence to good corporate governance practices and protocols.

Friday, November 5, 2010

SOS Press statement - for immediate release





SOS Coalition members have been debating the issue of putting forward nominations for the SABC Board. Four members of the Board have resigned. SOS has expressed concern about putting forward new members because the Coalition believes that the current conditions on the Board are not conducive to members playing their critical oversight roles. However, SOS believes that this is an important moment for the communications sector. We have a new Minister, Deputy Minister and new Acting Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Communications in place. We believe that with this new leadership in office the possibility of resolving the various crises affecting the SABC is strong. However, in order to ensure that the Minister, Deputy Minister and Acting Chair have time to take action, we urge the Portfolio Committee to extend the nomination deadline to allow time for the necessary changes to be effected. Presently the deadline for nominations is 15 November 2010.

SOS believes that we need substantive progress on the following issues:

  • The Chair of the Board – SOS believes that the Chair of the Board, Dr. Ben Ngubane should either resign or be removed by the Appointing Body (including Parliament and the President). Dr. Ngubane has been involved in a series of serious corporate governance breaches at the SABC.
  • In terms of the corporate governance breaches, SOS believes that Parliament should deal decisively with the following:
    • The unilateral appointment of the Head of News,
    • the Board's decision (although later reversed) to appoint an Acting CEO from outside the Corporation in direct violation of the SABC Board's Articles of Association,
    • the Chair's refusal to sign the delegation of authority document in terms of the appointment of the Acting CEO, and
    • the Chair’s unilateral decision to announce on SABC TV and Radio that there had been problems with the appointment of an Acting CEO and that he was hoping to reinstate suspended CEO, Solly Mokoetle.
  • Also in terms of the corporate governance breaches, SOS believes that the remaining board members (including the executive members of the Board that are part of SABC management) should publically commit themselves to scrupulous adherence to good corporate governance practices and protocols going forward.
  • Finally, SOS believes that gaps in the Broadcasting Act, 1999 should be swiftly dealt with. Parliament needs to make a commitment to amending the Broadcasting Act, 1999 to state clearly that the Minister has no role to play in the appointment of the executive members of the Board. The appointment of the executive members is solely the responsibility of the Board. SOS pointed out on numerous occasions during the Broadcasting Amendment Bill process in 2008, the fact that the Broadcasting Act is problematically silent about the appointment of executive management. To date Parliament has not resolved this issue creating continuing crises around these appointments. Further, these gaps in the legislation encourage inappropriate Ministerial interference in the direct management and editorial control of the SABC. People must remember that the CEO of the SABC is also the SABC's editor-in-chief.

SOS believes that we need substantive progress in terms of the above in order to be able to convince people with integrity to stand for the SABC Board. A further issue we need to consider Is the overall composition of the Board in terms of the issues of skills, experience and representivity. So for instance it is important to analyse the skills that we have lost through the four resignations and thus the skills that we need. Going forward we need to ensure that the SABC Board has the right combination of people to steer the SABC ship to calmer waters.

We believe that an unstable SABC is a threat to democracy and socio economic development. It denies the large majority of our population the ability to receive information and to have a voice.

For more information:

  • Kate Skinner – SOS Coordinator – (082) 926-6404
  • Patrick Craven – Spokesperson Cosatu – (082) 821-7456
  • Matankana Mothapo – Spokesperson Communications Workers Union – (082) 759-0900
  • Oupa Lebogo – General Secretary – Creative Workers Union – (084)511-8763
  • William Bird – Director Media Monitoring Africa – (082) 887-1370
  • Faiza Smith – Director Misa-SA – (076) 995-9513
  • Hannes du Buisson – General Secretary Bemawu – (082) 920-8669

Monday, November 1, 2010

SOS welcomes new Minister and calls on Civil Society NOT to put forward names for the SABC Board until NB corporate governance issues are resolved.

SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition





SOS welcomes the appointment of the new Minister and Deputy Minister of Communications

SOS welcomes the appointment of Mr. Roy Padayachie as Minister of Communications and Mr. Obed Bapela as Deputy Minister. SOS believes that there are a number of serious challenges in the communications sector. We hope the new Minister and Deputy Minister will swiftly address these.

Some of the challenges include:
  • The serious lack of capacity in the Department of Communications
  • The serious corporate governance breaches and governance crises at the SABC
  • Serious corporate governance crises at Sentech
  • The lack of a policy review process as regards current draft legislation including the Public Service Broadcasting Bill and ICASA Amendment Bill
  • Problems around government's shift from European digital standards to Japanese/ Brazilian standards without any clear explanations as to the rational behind these shifts or guarantees that the new standards will in fact ensure the manufacture of cheap, accessible set top boxes.
SOS will be requesting a meeting with the new Minister to raise these issues.

SOS urges civil society NOT to put forward names for the SABC Board

Further the SOS Coalition, following a special meeting of its working group, has decided NOT to put forward names for the SABC Board, until the following issues have been resolved:
  • That the Chair of the Board, Dr. Ben Ngubane, either resigns or is removed by the Appointing Body (including Parliament and the President).
  • That Parliament decisively deals with the various corporate governance breaches that have taken place at the SABC (including but not limited to the appointment of the Head of News, the Board's decision to appoint an Acting CEO from outside the Corporation in direct violation of the SABC Board's Articles of Association, and the Chair's refusal to sign the delegation of authority document in terms of the appointment of the Acting CEO.)
  • That the remaining board members (including the executive members of the Board that are part of SABC management) publically commit themselves to scrupulous adherence to good corporate governance practices and protocols going forward.
  • That Parliament commit to amending the Broadcasting Act, 1999 to state clearly that the Minister has no role to play in the appointment of the executive members of the Board. The appointment of the executive members is solely the responsibility of the Board. SOS pointed out on numerous occasions during the Broadcasting Amendment Bill process in 2008, the fact that the Broadcasting Act is problematically silent about the appointment of executive management. To date Parliament has not resolved this issue creating continuing crises around these appointments. Further, these gaps in the legislation encourage inappropriate Ministerial interference in the direct management and editorial control of the SABC.
The SOS Coalition believes that it cannot in good faith approach members of the public to stand for the SABC Board unless these problems have been decisively resolved. The SABC Board and oversight structures need to start 2011 with a commitment to good corporate governance otherwise the Corporation will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis. Civil society cannot stand by and let our SABC crumble.

For more information:

Kate Skinner – SOS Coordinator – (082) 926-6404
Patrick Craven – Spokesperson Cosatu – (082) 821-7456
Matankana Mothapo – Spokesperson Communications Workers Union – (082) 759-0900
Oupa Lebogo – General Secretary – Creative Workers Union – (084)511-8763
William Bird – Director Media Monitoring Africa – (082) 887-1370
Faiza Smith – Director Misa-SA – (076) 995-9513
Hannes du Buisson – General Secretary Bemawu – (082) 920-8669

New Minister and Deputy Minister!

31 October 2010

Padayachie replaces Nyanda

In a shock development, controversial communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda has lost his job.

President Jacob Zuma announced on Sunday evening that Nyanda would be replaced by former deputy communications minister Roy Padayachie.

Padayachie, who had served as deputy communications minister under the late Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, was most recently deputy minister of public service & administration.

News of Nyanda's axing came as a surprise to political analysts given that he was seen as politically close to Zuma.

The president's decision to remove him from the portfolio comes just months after the spectacular fall-out between Nyanda and his former director-general Mamodupi Mohlala, whom he dismissed.

Nyanda has been dogged by controversy ever since taking office as minister, with allegations that he benefited from dodgy tenders.

Dina Pule, Nyanda's deputy, has also been replaced. Zuma has named her deputy minister in the presidency where she will be responsible for performance monitoring, evaluation and administration.

Former parliamentary house chairman Obed Bapela has been appointed deputy minister of communications. Bapela is well known for his criticism earlier this year of MPs following a report that revealed the majority of parliamentary workers are computer illiterate.

Ismail Vadi, the chairman of parliament's portfolio committee on communications, has welcomed the appointment of both Padayachie and Bapela.

"Both are sensible appointments and bring vast experience to the portfolio," Vadi says. "They will be able to hit the road running and will be able to intervene to stabilise the department of communications and several crisis-ridden public entities." — Candice Jones and Duncan McLeod, TechCentral

SABC board turns on chair

The SABC board was given a whipping in Parliament for the second week in a row when it appeared before public spending watchdog Scopa to discuss the broadcaster's 2009/10 annual report on Wednesday.

The presentation the board had prepared for Scopa was not tabled because committee members wanted to question it about what action had been taken on the damning auditor general's report of last year.

The report found the SABC awash in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, non-compliance with reporting requirements, and irregularities. As most of the serious abuse has been referred to the Special Investigating Unit, the board could say little about individual cases.

The overwhelming complaint from Scopa members was that the board had given them no assurance that it understood the concept of fiduciary responsibility to shareholders and accountability for all transgressions.

Committee chairperson Themba Godi urged board members to answer questions honestly. "Say it as it is," he said.

When the board appeared before the communications committee last week, its chairperson, Ismail Vadi, said that it could not receive presentations of the board's performance review for the current year because of its dismal failure to submit relevant documents.

This week seemingly crestfallen SABC chairperson Ngubane said: "We have taken to heart all of the discussion today. We can only try our best and there is real sincerity in trying our best. But if obviously we are hopeless failures, well that is a different story. We have put in systems and the subcommittees are working and meeting all the time to try to answer all the issues in the AG's report and to clean up the organisation. At the same time, we are trying to revitalise our commercial enterprises, bring in advertising revenue, which is rising by the way, and we are improving a lot."

Ngubane said the board was also "trying to establish a pattern of behaviour within the organisation and these things take time".