Multichoice: ICASA & Parliament must act – Phumzile van Damme

DA MP says communications committee must investigate State Capture relating to Faith Muthambi

As former Communications Minister confirms Multichoice allegations, ICASA & Parliament must act

Honourable Chairperson,

The DA will not be supporting this report, for one main reason, the Minister’s recommendation for the appointment of Rubben Mohlaloga as Chairperson of the Council of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).

It is our belief that cadre deployment is one of the main causes of the problems facing state-owned entities, and with Mohlaloga having previously served as an MP for the ANC and a Deputy President of the ANCYL, he is just that.

We do hope that Mr Mohlaloga will prove us wrong, and will demonstrate leadership that will be independently-minded, and focused on taking ICASA to greater heights.

The biggest task facing Mr Mahlaloga will be an inquiry the DA has requested into payments made by Multichoice to ANN7 and the SABC.

Yesterday, the DA revealed SABC board minutes dated 6 June 2013 suggesting that Multichoice sought to pay the SABC R100 million a year for its 24-hour news channel in exchange for the public broadcaster's political influence over digital migration.

This notion has since been confirmed by the former Minister of Communications, Yunus Carrim, who is quoted in the media today stating that: “…Multichoice was seeking to change government policy to serve its own interests”, and he “…felt it wrong for a private company to seek to buy government policy in this way so that it could retain its 98% dominance of the pay-TV sector”. 

This is very serious indeed, and ICASA must exercise the very broad powers the ICASA Act gives it to investigate this. It is ICASA’s duty, to take this matter up in the public interest, and in particular, on behalf of those who use the very little they earn to fork our subscription fees for DSTV. It cannot be that their hard-earned money is used by Multichoice for nefarious deeds.

In addition, it is important for us in Parliament to do the same.

The Communications Committee must discharge of its duty to conduct an inquiry into allegations of State Capture relating to the former Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi as it was requested by the Deputy Speaker.

We believe that in that inquiry the following people must be included in those summoned:

Former Communications Ministers, Faith Muthambi, Yunus Carrim and Dina Pule

Former CEO of Multichoice, Imtiaz Patel

Multichoice’s executive chairman, Nolo Letele

Naspers CEO, Bob van Dijk

Former SABC board Chairperson, Ellen Tshabalala; and

Former CEO Lulama Makhobo

We look forward to feedback from ICASA, and also, the Minister of Communications, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane who has thus far remained silent on the SABC and Multichoice matter, and indeed, her views about the encryption of set-top boxes. What will it be Minister? Encrypted or unencrypted?

Issued by Phumzile Van Damme, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, 30 November 2017