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Ndabeni-Abrahams appoints USAASA’s executive caretaker

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USAASA executive caretaker, Basil Ford.
USAASA executive caretaker, Basil Ford.

Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has appointed Basil Ford as executive caretaker of the Universal Service and Access Agency of SA (USAASA), effective 28 January.

A statement issued by the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies on Wednesday afternoon says Ford has been appointed for a period of 12 months.

The new executive caretaker’s appointment comes as Ndabeni-Abrahams was forced to rescind the decision to appoint Newyear Ntuli last December.

Ntuli was appointed as USAASA administrator at the end of last year, with the communications department saying he would serve in the position for 24 months. An administrator for the State IT Agency was also appointed.

However, shortly afterwards, Eyewitness News (EWN) reported that current and former South African Post Office employees were shocked that Ntuli, who left the state-owned entity following allegations of sexual misconduct, had been appointed by the minister.

According to the EWN report, the minister revealed she was unaware of the allegations against Ntuli when she appointed him, and therefore decided to withdraw the appointment given the seriousness of the claims.

The department’s statement points out that as the executive caretaker, Ford will assume the dual role of the agency’s accounting authority and accounting officer.

“The executive caretaker’s appointment comes as the minister is seized with the responsibility of reconfiguring the department and its entities, as well as ensuring the successful implementation of the Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) programme,” the statement notes.

When Ndabeni-Abrahams announced the appointment of an administrator/executive caretaker for USAASA and SITA, many were left surprised. However, she clarified that the move does not mean the agencies are being placed under administration; rather her ministry has resolved that entities that are being repurposed or where board terms are ending, that new boards should not be appointed.

In such instances, an administrator/executive caretaker is appointed.

In its statement, the ministry indicates Ford was introduced to USAASA personnel earlier today, where the minister described him as a “consummate professional in the broadcasting, media and ICT space, who brings with him a wealth of experience gained from both government and state-owned entities".

Ford’s career spans 30 years, with close to two decades at the Industrial Development Corporation, where he was responsible for investing in various companies in the media and broadcasting value chain, according to the statement.

He is a qualified engineer with a Bachelor’s degree from Wits University and also holds a BEng honours degree from the University of Pretoria as well as executive development programme obtained from the Gordon Institute of Business Science.

Furthermore, he is said to be a highly experienced portfolio manager, having managed R2.3 billion worth of investments in over 100 films and TV series, radio stations, television broadcasters, printing and publishing.

“The minister wishes Mr Ford well in his new role,” concludes the statement. 

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