Kubayi to 'hit ground running' in communications portfolio

Cape Town – Service delivery will not be affected by the latest Cabinet reshuffle, said new Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi – the seventh person to be appointed to oversee this portfolio in the past seven years.

Delivering her first post-cabinet meeting briefing to the media on Thursday, Kubayi said the reshuffle shouldn't disrupt service delivery, thanks to a professional civil service.

She said the fact that she was able to answer questions in the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday about the portfolio she took over only a day before was indicative of this.

She said she has some experience in the communications field, having served as chairperson of the portfolio committee on telecommunications and the postal service from the establishment of the fifth Parliament, until she was appointed as minister of energy in President Jacob Zuma's late-night Cabinet reshuffle in March.

"I'm excited," she said of her new appointment.

"All of us are expected to hit the ground running."

Need for stability

Asked on Tuesday, after the news of the reshuffle broke, if he thinks that the lack of continuity on the ministerial front contributed to the woes of the embattled SABC, president of the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union, Hannes du Buisson, said it technically shouldn't, since the minister is not supposed to be involved in the day-to-day running of the broadcaster, but only the strategic directives.

"We will also be watching the minister closely," he said.

DA MP and spokesperson on communications Phumzile van Damme will also be watching the minister closely. She said, with her experience in telecommunications, the minister will have no choice but to "hit the ground running".

"As the third communications minister in seven months, Mmamoloko Kubayi now faces the monumental task of bringing much-needed stability to the various entities of her department, almost all of which face serious governance and financial crises," said Van Damme.

"First on her agenda will be working hand in hand with the newly appointed SABC board to address issues raised by staff last week, in order to prevent imminent strike action and keep the public broadcaster on air."

This is not the only matter Van Damme wants Kubayi to address urgently. Others include:

-    A full disclosure to Parliament and the public of the application submitted to Treasury for a R3bn bail-out for the SABC;

-    Appointment of the SABC's top executives according to the prescripts of the Broadcasting Act and the SABC charter;

-    Scrapping the SABC's problematic memorandum of incorporation (MOI);

-    Recommending to the president the immediate suspension of Media Diversity and Development Agency (MDDA) chairperson Phelisa Nkomo, who has been implicated in serious alleged financial mismanagement at the entity;

-    Appointing permanent top management at the MDDA, Films and Publications Board (FPB), and the Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS); and

-    Investigating the suspension, withdrawal of charges and full payouts to the former CEOs of the FPB and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.

"We trust that she will be a responsive, communicative, hard-working, fearless minister, or we will have no choice but to push for it to be goodbye, Kubayi," Van Damme concluded.

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