New minister of communications, Yunus Carrim, says that he is committed to his new portfolio, but it’s too soon to lay out any solid directive.
For the fourth time in five years, President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday (9 July) reshuffled his cabinet, including the appointment of a new minister of communications, Yunus Carrim at the expense of Dina Pule.
Speaking to John Robbie on Talk Radio 702, Carrim addressed questions relating to his suitability for the position, as well as his views on the status quo of South African ICT and what he would like to achieve.
According to the new minister, there’s no “magic wand” he has to wave to fix the challenges facing ICT in South Africa.
“We have about nine months – slightly more perhaps – before the elections are on. There’s no magic wand I have to wave.”
“What I give is a commitment to work with the deputy minister and the department – which needs to be united and unified and far more developmental in service delivery and orientation,” Cassim said.
When addressing his background (in arts, sociology and journalism) and whether it would put him at a technical disadvantage in the highly-technical ICT portfolio, Carrim said that one doesn’t need a PhD to do the job.
“Part of the role of deputy minister and minister – and it’s a measure of their leadership in that regard – is to bring together that expertise and technical know-how, to provide political and strategic oversight in addressing the ICT challenges,” the minister said.
“I’m not sure that you require a PhD in ICT to qualify as a minister. I would wager that your average minister in the advanced industrialised world doesn’t have a PhD in any area of ICT.”
According to Carrim, “It’s really about bringing together the people who do the technical work, but having a political sense of where you want to go.”
“What you have from me is a commitment to bring those experts and stakeholders together,” he said.
Carrim highlighted his point further, noting that former minister of finance, Trevor Manuel also never had any qualifications in finance, and went on to become a “world class” leader in the field.
Goals for SA ICT
Speaking about broadband, and the DoC’s aim of broadband for all, Carrim admitted that the department “(has) to move faster in that regard.”
However, it was too soon in his appointment to lay out any solid plans, he said, adding that ministers and politicians across the ANC would soon be distracted by the approaching 2014 elections.
“What we (deputy minister and Cassim) have spoken about…what we can do over the next nine months (leading up to the elections), is meet certain deadlines – and you can hold us by them,” Carrim said.
“There will be a new thrust, a new energy at the department – and what you’re going to get is a new foundation for the five year term – 2014 onwards.”
According to Carrim, this foundation plan will serve as a platform to work from for whichever ministers take up the position post-elections.
When questioned on political interference at SABC, Carrim said that “some political relationship” between the broadcaster and government had to exist.
However, Carrim said that “micromanagement is unnecessary,” and only a broader overview of the entity’s operations was required.