There's a new boss in charge at the communications
department and she has already set impressive targets to clean up her
Dina Pule, the new minister of communications, has been busy
around the clock since she took office three months ago.
Her hands-on leadership style has seen Pule stepping in to
wipe out leadership challenges that were beginning to affect the image of some
of her department’s parastatals.
She has also set herself tight deadlines.
By March, Pule has to have:
- Appointed a new board for the Universal Service and Access
Agency of South Africa (Usaasa);
- Finalised the digital terrestrial television regulations;
- Hosted a national policy colloquium to review the
information and communication technologies (ICT) policy environment since 1994;
- Developed the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework and
presented it to cabinet; and
- Appointed a Postbank board.
This week she ordered the South African Post Office board to
speedily conclude the disciplinary hearing of its chief executive, Motshoanetse
Lefoka is facing a disciplinary hearing relating to a R425m
lease contract – awarded to commercial property developing firm M&T without
proper tender regulations being followed – first revealed in City Press.
Pule’s intervention on Tuesday resulted in Lefoka following
in the footsteps of the parastatal’s former chief operating officer John
Wentzel, who also left in October after he was accused of the same thing.
Pule said she did not want Lefoka’s disciplinary hearing to
drag on any longer because the parastatal had to continue focusing on
delivering its mandate.
Pule also said she had dissolved the board of the Universal
Service and Access Agency because it was unable to play its oversight role,
which had resulted in the agency’s four top managers being suspended.
They include chief executive Phineas Moleele, chief
financial officer Andrew Hlubi, business development officer Molefi Mollo, and
supply-chain manager Archie Mbatha.
The suspensions followed allegations of misappropriating
R29m and the fate of the four hangs on a forensic investigation that is being
Pule has also turned her attention to the Independent
Communication Authority of SA (Icasa).
In July 2010, Icasa lowered the interconnection fees – the
rates cellphone companies charge each other to handle incoming calls – to 65c
per call per minute from July 2010.
Cellphone users were promised that in July last year the
inter-connection fee would be further reduced to 50c, but this has yet to take
effect. It was also proposed that the fee would be cut to 40c this July.
“Over the past weekend we did engage Icasa – an entity that
is supposed to help us bring the cost of communication down – and told the
authority’s officials that South Africans are going to be complaining soon,”
“People need to see the cost of communication coming down.
We requested Icasa to assist us with regulation to ensure that cellphone
tariffs are brought down.”
Communications chief financial officer Sam Vilakazi said
Icasa would initiate a survey to determine the impact of the reductions that
took place in 2010.
“The authority will use the findings of the study to
determine what steps to take. The main issue is to see the man on the street
really benefiting from this reduction,” he said.
“It becomes a pointless exercise if the reductions are kept
at the wholesale level and do not trickle down to consumers.”
Pule said the department has started a process to
restructure Icasa as the authority itself faces challenges.
“The first draft of the restructuring plan has been
submitted to my office. It looks at whether the current Icasa system is
structured in a manner that helps the organisation carry out its mandate,” she
“We want to make sure that each councillor signs a
perfor-mance agreement so that they can perform,” she said.
Pule said the country will prioritise the roll-out of
broadband. “If the broadband roll- out is increased by just 10%, the GDP will
grow by 1.3%. If broadband is rolled out success-fully, we would assist in
creating 160 000 jobs by 2020,” she said.
She aims to achieve 100% broadband penetration by 2020.
Her department is busy determining the cost implications of
the broadband roll-out.
“Others have estimated that it will cost us R45bn, others
are estimating R75bn. We are currently doing an impact assessment to check
first where we have infrastructure and where there are gaps of broadband,” Pule
“We want to involve the industry in the roll-out of
broadband because the state can’t afford to roll it out solely on its own. We
need to partner with private entities and will soon finalise a public-private
- City Press