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Outrage over 'dumping' of Carrim

Johannesburg, 27 May 2014
Read time 3min 30sec
The industry reluctantly bids farewell to what it deemed a strong force for ICT in SA, Yunus Carrim.
The industry reluctantly bids farewell to what it deemed a strong force for ICT in SA, Yunus Carrim.

While former communications minister Yunus Carrim always expressed candour around the likelihood of his term as head of the Department of Communications (DOC) being limited to the 10 months between his appointment and the 2014 general elections, the industry is bemoaning his removal.

Industry professionals say Sunday - the day president Jacob Zuma announced new, fragmented ICT ministries including a telecoms and postal department and a "new DOC" that will seemingly act as a policy, strategy and publicity body - was a sad day indeed.

Not only is there a cloud of confusion over what role the Independent Communications Authority of SA will now play and how already fragmented ICT policies will come to fruition, but again - for the ninth time since 1994 - the new ICT leaders face a baptism of fire.

This, say industry experts, comes as things started to seem as if they were falling into place for ICT in SA, with a driven Carrim taking the DOC and its legacy of woes and lighting a fire under it, in the hope of faster, more tangible results.

Although Carrim has gracefully accepted his fate, other ICT veterans and leaders have received the news with less cheer.

Carrim tells ITWeb it has been an honour to serve as a minister. "Of course, when I first became an activist in high school in 1971, I would never have thought that I would be an MP in the first ever democratic Parliament of our country, let alone a Cabinet minister.

Siyabonga Cwele has not succeeded in his previous portfolio and is best known for his ex-wife's role as a drug dealer.

Adrian Schofield

"My term came to an end with the elections. I have no sense of entitlement, and am certainly fine with the decision not to appoint me to the new Cabinet."

Carrim will continue to be an active MP and says he will serve as best as he can. "I wish the new minister, Siyabonga Cwele, and deputy minister, Hlengiwe Mkhize, everything of the best.

Rueing the day

Africa Analysis analyst Dobek Pater says even though Carrim was largely anticipated to be a place-holder until the elections, the academic and former journalist managed to bag significant achievements in terms of moving the broadband policy along during his short tenure.

"One would have wished that he remained in his seat to ensure continuity and have a minister who already demonstrated certain competency in the sector." Pater says the restructuring of the former DOC is "peculiar, to say the least".

World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck says Carrim will be sorely missed. "The latest move brings to a crashing, grinding, mind-numbing halt the progress made under Yunus Carrim."

[Carrim] put in exceptional energy and intellectual agility into understanding the complexities and fractiousness of the sector - as well as the potential for corruption between government officials and the cronies.

Marian Shinn

Goldstuck says the "dumping" of Carrim and the appointment of "less than stellar" performers makes no sense.

Dominic Cull, owner of Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions, says it is "incredibly disheartening" to have yet another telecoms minister. "Carrim had given [the industry] a sense of hope that it would move forward and that communications was in a sense being placed at centre of government's agenda."

The Democratic Alliance's shadow minister of communications Marian Shinn says she is "outraged" that Carrim was axed from the top ICT spot. "He put in exceptional energy and intellectual agility into understanding the complexities and fractiousness of the sector - as well as the potential for corruption between government officials and the cronies - and acted with vigour to resolve the issues."

ICT veteran Adrian Schofield says he is saddened by what he calls the side-lining of Carrim. "Siyabonga Cwele has not succeeded in his previous portfolio and is best known for his ex-wife's role as a drug dealer. Faith Muthambi was discredited as a municipal manager. How can they be expected to command respect as senior leaders of this country's government?"

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