Waves of change for communication dept

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pretoria - After just 11 days in office, new Communications Minister Radhakrishna "Roy" Padayachie and his Deputy Obed Bapela have already set targets for the "necessary waves of change" needed by the department.

On Thursday, Padayachie detailed to the media the areas his department would be focusing on in the next 30 days, three months and year.

The first step would be to reconstruct and develop the department that has a vacancy rate of approximately 30 percent.

Senior managers and a director general would be appointed in the next three months with the aim of stabilising the leadership of the department.

Ultimately, Padayachie said he hoped to see the department improve its performance through effective leadership, internal communication, planning, budgeting, and staff performance management.

Next on the minister's targets is the stabilising of public entities, with the SABC expected to receive immediate attention.

"Our first priority would be to stabilise the leadership within the SABC and to address its programme of work that will resolve its financial liquidity problems and guarantee that the corporation will deliver programme content in tune with the needs of the people," he added.

The minister said his department would work closely with Parliament, the SABC board, executive leadership, management and staff to find solutions to the broadcaster's problems.

Areas of concern at state signal distributor Sentech, as well the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa and the Universal and Access Agency of South Africa would also be addressed, he said.

The department will also focus on forging partnerships with the private sector, academia, civil society groups and labour.

"These sectors provide enormous potential for the mobilisation of intellectual capital and investment partnerships. We will extend an open invitation to enter into a development partnership with the different sector to reconstruct and develop the information communication and technologies (ICT) sector," the minister explained.

Padayachie also committed his department to developing an integrated national broadband plan in the next 12 months.

Building an efficient and competitive ICT infrastructure network was critical to propelling South Africa into a knowledge based economy, he noted.

The department intended on developing the country's ICT infrastructure, skills and regulations, so that everyone would be able to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the emerging information society and knowledge based economy.

Padayachie said his department was committed to bridging the digital divide.

The department was also expected to announce the country's position on the digital terrestrial television standard within a month, while its ICT Rural Development Strategy is expected to be finalised by March next year.

As part of this strategy, 19 lower power transmitters will be built to give television services access to about five million people.

Padayachie was confident that if his department committed itself to hard work in the coming months, most of the targets set would be reached.