Merger of departments gains traction

Thursday, January 17, 2019

By Mish Molakeng

Minister of Communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, has urged senior staff members of both the Department of Communications and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services to speedily work towards concluding the configuration of the two departments.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the decision to combine the two departments in November last year. He had said the move was aimed at ensuring there is better alignment and coordination on matters that are critical to the future of the economy in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Addressing the Executive Committee of the two departments, as well as the Government Communications and Information System (GCIS), in Pretoria on Wednesday, Ndabeni-Abrahams and Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana said combining these two departments was aimed at building a capable 4th Industrial Revolution staff complement that will be responsive to the constantly evolving ICT sector. 

Working groups, consisting of Deputy Directors General and Chief Directors from both departments, have been established to facilitate the conclusion of the merger with timelines, targets and clear objectives.

The working groups will also embark on a skills matching exercise. 

The two departments have less than three months to put a comprehensive master merger plan together, and a possible model that can be used by other departments who could also face a similar merger in the future.

The Minister and Deputy Minister have both committed to working closely with organised labour, entities under the portfolio and staff to ensure the transition is seamless and does not result in job losses.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA) are looking forward to being part of forming a new department.

Khaya Xaba, Nehawu’s national spokesperson, said: “As Nehawu, we welcome the undertaking made by Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams to work with organised labour. We are ready to support the exercise of combining the two departments. More importantly for us as a union, we were encouraged by the Minister’s commitment that there will no job losses in this process.”

Ivan Fredericks, General Manager of PSA, said the union welcomes the spirit of working together from the Minister and Deputy Minister. 

Ndabeni-Abrahams and Kekana, together with senior staff members, spent considerable time in December attending consultative meetings with entities in their portfolio.

“We had meetings with all the entities in our portfolio. This was part of a due diligence exercise that was necessary. Furthermore, this exercise has helped us as shareholders in these respective entities to identify their challenges and strengths and what we will need to build a capable 4th Industrial Revolution army of dedicated and responsible employees,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.

The entities of government that fall within department include Broadband Infraco, the Post Office, Sentech, ICASA, MDDA, FPB, Brand SA, SABC, SITA, USAASA, DOTZDNA and NEMISA. 

The Minister reiterated the commitment to strengthening and creating an enabling environment for the ICT sector in the country.

“In order for the ICT sector to effectively play its leading role in economic and social development, it is critical for us as a department to create a policy and regulatory framework that supports e- development and the digital economy,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams. –