[18 July 2016] The Minister of Communications has published a call for nominations for members of an “Evaluation Panel for the ICASA Council” to be established under the provisions of the ICASA Act dealing with performance monitoring.

Nominations invited: Evaluation panel for ICASA Council

The Panel is to consist of 7 members – one of which will be designated as the chairperson – appointed by the Minister in consultation with the National Assembly. Members should have the necessary skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience in the ICT sector.

Nominations are due by 15 August 2016,  and should be sent to Freddy Mamuremi: freddy@doc.gov.za / +27 12 4730 409 / +27 71 3366 288

On the one hand there are many who would agree with the sentiment that the communications regulator needs to perform better. On the other this will be seen as and may well be a threat to the independence of ICASA.

The notice includes terms of reference for the Panel, which can be summarised as follows:

  • Legislative basis: Section 6A (1) of the ICASA Act,13 of 2000 as amended, stipulates that the Minister must in consultation with the National Assembly, establish a performance management system to monitor and evaluate the performance of the chairperson and the other councillors. The performance management system must, inter alia, set key performance indicators as a yardstick for measuring performance; set measurable performance targets as well as set a procedure to measure and review performance at least once a year.
  • Section 6A (3) provides that as soon as is practicable after appointment of the Chairperson and the other councillors, a performance agreement must be concluded between the Chairperson or the councillors and the Ministers.
  • The role of the Panel: The ultimate role of the Panel is to ensure a constructive engagement and provision of better rationality in respect of resource allocation so that funds are allocated where they are most likely to maximise the achievement of set outcomes. The Performance Management System will take into account issues of compliance and time-frames. This system therefore will link directly with the targets and key performance indicators as stipulated in the Annual Work-Plan of the independent Authority.
  • The Chairperson and individual councillors will be required to submit their individual performance reports prior to the sitting of the Panel. During the performance review session, the Chairperson and councillors will be required to provide oral submissions in respect of their performance assessments.
  • Evaluation will be based, inter alia, on the verbal and written submissions made by the ICASA Council. Once an evaluation has been completed, the Panel shall submit a report to the National Assembly within seven (7) working days for consideration. The evaluation process shall be fair, objective and honest.
  • Composition: Seven members, including a chair, with a minimum of five members constituting a quorum. Members should include: a retired High Court judge; a representative from the office of the Auditor- General; and at least two representatives from organised consumer groups Independent consultation/experts in the electronic communications, broadcasting or postal sector.
  • Role: The terms of reference note that “the performance evaluation of the ICASA Council is not only about monitoring what has been done but rather should be geared more towards providing guidance for future ICT and postal policies; assessing the relevance and appropriateness of strategies and programmes, as well as dealing with all types of impact including unintended and unexpected consequences”.
  • Term of office: The terms of office of the members of the Panel shall be three years from the date of appointment. Members of the panel may, at any time, provide written notice to tender their resignation from the panel. Members of the Evaluation Panel, who will be appointed by Notice in the Gazette, may be re-appointed by the Minister, in consultation with the National Assembly. No member of the Evaluation Panel shall serve for more than two terms.
  • The Minister may fill a casual vacancy on the panel, in consultation with the National Assembly, in which event the new panel member will hold office for the rest of the period of the predecessor’s term of office.
  • The Minister may, in consultation with the National Assembly, remove a member of the Evaluation Panel from office, due to misconduct, conflict of interest or inability to perform his or her duties efficiently or for engaging in any activity that may undermine the functions of the Evaluation Panel.
  • Conflicts of interest: Members of the Panel must not have a conflict of interest whilst serving in this capacity as it could impair an individual’s ability to perform his or her duties and responsibilities objectively. In this regard, the conflict of interest is defined as follows: the member is an un-rehabilitated insolvent: has been declared by court to be mentally ill or disordered, has at any time been convicted, whether in the Republic or elsewhere or theft, fraud, forgery or any other offence involving dishonesty: has at any time been removed from an office or trust on account of misconduct and had direct or indirect interest in conflict with the business of ICASA.
  • Funding: Costs incurred by the Panel shall be funded by the Department.
  • Meetings: meetings shall be held as often as necessary. Decisions are to be made by majority “provided that a quorum of one-third of the voting members are present at that meeting” (this appears to conflict with the statement that a quorum is five members. Alternates to attend meetings representing members will not be permitted.
  • Administration: administrative, financial and logistical matters related to the Panel’s work will be managed by a dedicated Secretariat provided by the Department.
  • Remuneration: to be determined by the Minister in accordance with sound governance and applicable law.