Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has appointed five new ICASA councillors.
The minister gazetted the appointments on 21 August 2020.
The list of names include two former councillors, Keabetswe Modimoeng and Peter Zimri, both of whom served at ICASA from April 2016 until June 2020.
The other appointments are former Independent Broadcasting Authority councillor Advocate Luthando Mkumatela, ICT regulatory and policy expert Yolisa Kedama, and Charles Lewis, an independent ICT regulation and policy analyst.
The councillors will be appointed for a period of four years with effect from date of assumpt of duty, the gazette stated.
Clash with Parliament
The news follows a report from the Sunday Times which said Ndabeni-Abrahams had questioned the suitability of ICASA council candidates sent to her by Parliament.
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”.
Ndabeni-Abrahams received the candidate list from Parliament following her return to work after being placed on special leave for two months following a violation of lockdown regulations.
Post Office battle
A separate City Press report has also claimed the minister is embroiled in a heated dispute with the SA Post Office (SAPO) over the payment of the R350 COVID-19 relief grants and the appointment of a new CEO.
The SA Post Office board does not want the organisation to be involved in the distribution of grants.
Ndabeni-Abrahams, however, is in favour of the SA Post Office paying and distributing the R350 COVID-19 relief grants.
With the minister’s backing, former acting SAPO CEO Ivumile Nongogo went against the board’s decision and signed a deal which linked the SA Post Office to the payment of the grants.
The SAPO board asked Nongogo why he should not be disciplined for defying the board, and soon after this, he stepped down.
Despite this, Ndabeni-Abrahams disagreed with the SA Post Office board’s recommendation of a new acting CEO and group COO.
Instead, she requested that the board ask Nongogo to continue acting as group CEO until a permanent CEO was confirmed.