Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams’s ICASA Bid Rejected by MPs

The communications portfolio committee has unanimously adopted a report recommending the names of candidates to be considered for appointment to fill four vacancies at the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA).

The committee also rejected a request by Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams not to fill some vacancies at Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) council after she deemed some candidates not to possess skills that would position the regulatory body to execute its mandate.

In a statement, committee chairperson Boyce Maneli said the committee strived for consensus with regards to the MDDA names and praised all political parties for putting South Africa first over their political differences.

Maneli said those recommended in the order of priority are Hlengane Mathebula, Brenda Leonard, Andiswa Ncingwana and Marina Clarke.

“The committee report will be tabled for consideration by the National Assembly and, once adopted, the four names will be forwarded to the president for his appointment,” he said.

Maneli also said the committee has adopted two reports on the adjustment budgets of the Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS) and the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.

The GCIS and the department had presented adjustment budgets to the committee after Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni tabled his adjustment budget on June 24.

Maneli added that the committee further adopted another report supporting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s determination to freeze at zero percent the salaries of all councillors and chairperson of Icasa.

Maneli said the committee did not accede to a request by Ndabeni-Abrahams to fill only four of the six vacancies on Icasa’s council.

It also rejected the request to alter the skills set as recommended by the National Assembly in line with Section 5(3B)(II).

This as the committee had made its recommendation on the preferred candidates in their order of priority.

“The committee is of the firm view that the convergence of the regulator needs to take into account the skills as outlined in the Icasa Act.

“In its view, a request by the Minister fails to respond to this section of the Act,” Maneli said.

“The committee firmly held that all six vacancies should be filled, taking into consideration all the required skill sets,” he added.

Prior to the committee’s Tuesday night meeting, the DA had vowed to oppose what it described as Ndabeni-Abrahams’s malicious attempt to dictate to Parliament appointments to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa council.

This was after the minister wrote to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise requesting to be given permission to fill only some of the vacancies on the Icasa Council because the “proposed candidates do not possess the skills set that would position the regulator to repurpose or position Icasa to effectively execute its mandate.”

DA MP Phumzile van Damme said there would always of course be better candidates that could serve on the Icasa council and the candidates met the requirements of the Act.

She said at no stage in the Icasa Act was the Minister allowed to reject a list duly approved by Parliament.

“Moreover, this would go against the constitutional principle that the executive account to Parliament, and not the other way around,” Van Damme said.


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