The Minister of Communications, Dina Pule, will not consider selling the government’s stake in Telkom to a South African-led consortium.
This is according to Marian Shinn, Shadow Minister of Communications, who said she asked Pule the question in parliament “given government’s appalling track record in the ICT sector, and the bad faith it had demonstrated with potential investors KT Corporation.”
Pule’s answer was in stark contrast to suggestions made in the final National Development Plan (NDP) that the National Planning Commission (NPC), chaired by Trevor Manuel, recently published.
In an article on the DA website, Shinn wrote that the NDP gives hope for a competitive and dynamic ICT marketplace.
“The final National Development Plan (NDP) incorporates more emphatic language about introducing a market-friendly environment and loosening government control in the communications sector,” Shinn said. “This is to be welcomed.
Shinn said that the draft NDP released in November 2011 was criticised by the ICT sector, and in parliamentary discussions with the NCP team earlier this year, for not going far enough to recognise the pivotal role of communications in supporting economic growth.
The NDP vision for the ICT sector also takes a different tack to the ANC policy document on the communications sector, Shinn wrote.
She said that the ANC document sees the role of government in the sector as primarily ensuring that ICT supports its service delivery mandate rather than freeing up the communications environment to facilitate competition in support of cost-competitive economic growth and encourage innovation of products and services.
“If Cabinet adopts the NDP’s recommendation, without trying to manipulate the outcomes to protect its vested interests,” Shinn said, “South Africa may, for the first time, have a communications environment that supports economic growth.”