councillor

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has confirmed the resignation of councillor Zolani Matthews.

Spokesperson Paseka Maleka says Matthews left the employ of ICASA with immediate effect at the end of February 2021, to join the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa as group CEO.

Matthews’s resignation comes less than six months after he was sworn in as the sixth councillor to round up the industry sector regulator’s nine-member council.

With him gone, the council now consists of eight members, namely Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng (chairperson), Peter Zimri, Luthando Mkumathela, Yolisa Kedama, Dr Charles Lewis, Palesa Kadi, Thembeka Semane and Dimakatso Qocha.

ICASA defines its council as its highest decision-making body. It consists of eight members and the chairperson. Those appointed to serve on the council are selected on the principles of transparency, openness and accountability, commitment to fairness and freedom of expression.

The appointment process of six new members to make up a complete membership of nine councillors became a contentious issue last year, with communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams rocking the boat by insisting on appointing only four out of the required six members.

Last May, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications recommended 10 names for consideration to fill the vacancies on the regulator’s highest decision-making body.

At the time, Ndabeni-Abrahams submitted three letters toNational Assembly speaker Thandi Modise’s office, raising a number of concerns about the recommended candidates, including, but not limited to, the skills set of some of them.

In one of the letters, she requested the appointment of ICASA councillors be staggered, with her only choosing four out of the 10 recommended names.

In a subsequent letter, the minister recommended her six preferred names, one of which was not on the portfolio committee’s top six preferred candidates.

This move did not sit well with the committee, which stood firm in its decision that the recommended six candidates be appointed in the order in which they were prioritised.

After initially announcing the appointment of only five of the councillors – Modimoeng, Zimri, Mkumathela, Kedama and Lewis – Ndabeni-Abrahams made a U-turn, recommending Matthews to join the ICASA council.

In terms of filling the vacant post left by Matthews’s resignation, ICASA says: “The appointment of councillors is done through a Parliamentary process.”

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