/ 11 July 2013

Quick Carrim targets SABC turmoil

New Communications Minister Yunus Carrim took reader questions on broadband
New Communications Minister Yunus Carrim took reader questions on broadband

Speaking in Pretoria after his swearing in on Wednesday, Communicaitons Minister Yunus Carrim said the performance and management of state entities, particularly the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), would improve.

"There is no reason why we cannot move with due expedition. We have these huge challenges and limited time so we cannot afford not to move fast," he said.

"The plans [for the SABC] are not plans which I make alone. We are all excruciatingly aware of the need to stabilise the SABC board and its management. We need to improve its performance."

He said different roleplayers in the communication sector would be consulted.

"I have been the minister now for not more than 45 minutes. I will be spending a good deal over the next two weeks listening to people, largely learning."

He said that compared to other countries with developing economies, South Africa lagged behind in information and technology development.

"Clearly, we are lagging behind. We made significant progress in the early years of our democratic transformation. I will be very keen to work with [the] deputy minister, the department, the public sector and [the] broader society."

'Limit of tolerance'
Carrim said a revival of the problem-riddled communications department and its entities was on the horizon.

"We simply have no choice. The public out there, the business community, trade union movements and society have reached a limit of tolerance about the difficulties we have been having in the SABC," he said.

"We are all committed to work with the public out there in turning around the SABC and the ICT sector. It will happen, but it won't happen simply through the role of the politicians. We all have a stake in this."

Carrim said the state should not negate its role in the improvement.

"We will seek to secure a more co-operative, consensual environment while recognising ultimately that as government we must not shrug away from our responsibility to lead."

The new ministers and deputy ministers were sworn in on Wednesday in a ceremony presided over by Constitutional Court Judge Johan Froneman.

Taking oath
Carrim was made minister of communications during a Cabinet reshuffle by President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday.

Carrim, together with incoming Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Lechesa Tsenoli and Human Settlements Minister Connie September were first to take the oath of office.

They were followed by Deputy Justice and Constitutional Development Minister John Jeffery, Deputy Science and Technology Minister Michael Masutha, and Deputy Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Pamela Tshwete.

Unions and opposition parties questioned the reshuffle, saying he did not do it to improve governance.

Earlier on Wednesday, the presidency said President Jacob Zuma did not have to give reasons for the changes to his Cabinet.

"The presidency wishes to remind the opinion-makers that the president of the republic uses his prerogative when appointing members to the national executive," spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

Zuma axed three ministers – Communications Minister Dina Pule, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi.

Transport Minister Ben Martins became the new energy minister, swapping portfolios with Dipuo Peters. – Sapa