The Sunday Times published a scathing but most appropriate orbituary for dead telecommunications minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri last weekend. Seat-warmer president Kgalema Motlanthe said she was an extraordinary woman – and that she certainly was: a member of Thabo Mbeki‘s so called dream team after the 1999 election, she set South Africa back by at least 10 years during her tenure.
Instead of opening up the market and encouraging competition to make telecom costs cheaper and facilities more accessible for South Africans, Ivy was set on protecting Telkom’s monopoly. Apparently, according to Motlanthe, she was a ‘paragon of ethical virtue’ so lets not venture into speculating what she got out of that move. Hopefully the ANC keeps their paragons out of technically challenging posts in the future.
So here we are – it is currently cheaper for people in India to make international calls from the mobile phones than it is for South African to make local calls on theirs. While broadband penetration has sky-rocketed in open markets, in South Africa because of Ivy’s incompetence and lack of vision bandwidth it is prohibitively expensive here. No doubt the chairman of the broadcaster SABC at the very least, will be glad Ivy will not be present to literally nod off during their meetings when she was being informed of the deteriorating situation there. We’d say more, but best we restrain our fingers until we find out what new paragon is going to replace her.