Icasa councillors should get 7-year terms: ex-chair Modimoeng

Keabetswe Modimoeng

Keabetswe Modimoeng, who stepped down last week from Icasa, where he was chairman of its decision-making council, said councillors should be appointed for a period of seven years, not the current four, to strengthen the organisation.

Speaking to TechCentral on Friday, Modimoeng – who is widely regarded as having been a capable chairman of the Icasa council, helping strengthen its governance – said doing so would serve the organisation far better. It would allowing councillors time to make valuable contributions once they have fully mastered their portfolios.

The terms should be non-renewable, however, he said. After the seven years are up, councillors should move on. “You don’t want situations where individuals become institutions.”

There should also be a mix of full-time and part-time councillors, much like in the private sector, where boards are comprised of both executive and non-executive directors. “It would help [Icasa] to have a balance of both.”

The slow pace at which parliament appoints councillors needs to be addressed, too, and urgently, Modimoeng told TechCentral. Although Icasa is meant to have nine full-time councillors, there’s seldom a full house. In the past, the number of councillors has dwindled to as few as three people – although the council is still quorate at that number, it’s far from ideal, he said. “How can three people do a task that has been established to require nine people? It affects the quality of output. The speed at which vacancies are filled in council is a big challenge.”

Modimoeng’s departure last week means Icasa now has just four councillors, with five vacancies.

Reflecting on his own interview process in parliament, Modimoeng said he was first interviewed on 3 June 2015. He was appointed to the job almost a year later – on 3 April 2016. These delays “need to be looked into”, he said. “It would help if there was a genuine sense of urgency whenever a vacancy in the council emerges.”

‘Pure patriotism’

He said the remuneration of councillors should also be reviewed to ensure that Icasa can attract the right calibre of people. “It takes pure patriotism to do the heavy lifting at Icasa in an environment where you have to ignore any number of offers that may come your way.”

Modimoeng said the highlight of his tenure at Icasa was the successful spectrum auction in March as well as the “healthy” negotiated settlement the regulator reached with Telkom, which had sued over its unhappiness with the way the auction of frequencies was managed. The out-of-court settlement was “in the spirit of how we should do things through dialogue”.

Modiomeng, who has previously worked in both mining and media, said he plans to take a “much-needed” holiday before deciding what he’ll do next with his career. Will he stay in the ICT field, perhaps working for one of the telecommunications operators? “So far, I haven’t received any calls from the sector, maybe because they respected the fact that I was still in office,” he said. “Beyond today, I am unemployed.”  — © 2022 NewsCentral Media

Read next: Ex-Icasa chair on MTN, Telkom talks: consolidation is ‘inevitable’

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