Maybe our ministers don’t understand what a Constitutional democracy is?

I wrote about our Communications Minister’s effort to establish more direct control over the appointment of councillors to ICASA which is supposed to be an independent body protected from interference by the Constitution almost a year ago. The problem was (and remains) that the Minister was/is intent on interfering with the governance of ICASA and the regulation of the industry as a whole by ensuring that her appointees were appointed to ICASA’s board. ICASA is meant to regulate the broadcasting and telecommunications industries in South Africa, including Telkom, one of the government’s cash cows.

ITWeb has just reported that an ad hoc parliamentary committee has determined that the nomination process introduced by the Minister ought to be reviewed as it potentially undermines ICASA’s credibility and has recommended that, for one thing, the President approve appointments on the recommendation of the National Assembly instead of the Minister effectively giving herself carte blanche to appoint her preferred candidates to the ICASA board.

It occurred to me that perhaps our ministers simply don’t understand how to conduct themselves in a Constitutional democracy and this is why some of them keep coming up with schemes like this to establish virtual fiefdoms over people and institutions falling within their jurisdiction. After all, many of our government officials were educated and trained by the former Soviet Union and other socialist nations (in fact, the powerful labour movement itself is still heavily influenced by socialist thought). It wouldn’t surprise me if these individuals hadn’t quite embraced the mindset required to govern in a Constitutional democracy where the interests of the electorate take precedence over their own and that there are limits to their authority for good reasons.

Just a thought.

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