Media Monday Bulletin: Zuma wedding costs; E-toll details unclear; National ICT Policy Colloquium

Posted: 16 April 2012 | News - Newsletter | Categories: Gender, Democracy and Governance, Policy Submissions, Media Freedom and Performance

Here’s what’s on the menu this Media Monday:

·         The Zuma wedding – clarity on a few more details, please?

·         e-tolling saga continues – crucial details still not clear

·         National ICT Policy Colloquium this week

Are all details clear on Zuma’s wedding and expenses?

The media confirmed this past weekend that President Jacob Zuma is scheduled to walk down the isle for the sixth time this weekend. According to media reports, uMsholozi will marry his long-time fiancee, Bongi Ngema, who will be JZ’s fourth wife (or fifth, depending on which newspaper you read). This was confirmed by the president's spokesman, Mac Maharaj.

The presidential spokesperson was quick to allay fears that the public would be footing the bill for the ceremony by indicating that the cost is to be paid by the groom himself, and that there will be no government involvement or cost. Maharaj also indicated as incorrect media reports that suggested the State would bear the cost of maintaining Zuma's wives. Such a relief, isn’t it?

But who is paying for what? Who exactly is footing the bill here? Is it Jacob Zuma himself, or one of his (many) business &/or financial connects? If it’s the latter, are we not in for another round of Zuma vs. Shaik saga, but this time with someone else other than Shaik? Earlier this year there was report of Shaik demanding his R2 million loan from Zuma – hope we don’t see the repeat of that episode.

Speculation aside, the question still remains: who exactly is paying and for what? Are we not entitled to some sort of a breakdown of the total cost of the ceremony, maybe as assurance that we are not paying? If so, where are those details; why are they not included in the many media reports over the weekend about Zuma getting hitched?

Is it a case of our media not communicating such information fully to the public? Or is it maybe the Presidency’s fault that such information is not made available to us?

Moving on, we are talking about the President marrying a fourth wife here. City Press even reported that there are still more waiting in the wings to tie the knot with Zuma. So there could be a gender debate in this matter, right? If right, why is it not reflected in the media? Is it because it’s a cultural issue, and much like religion in many cases, a sensitive issue to tread on?

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e-tolling – where are the details?

The debate on the e-tolling system being introduced by the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) continues and is getting heated by the week if not day. The debate was heated by Sanral’s announcement that motorists who do not register for e-tags, or who do not have valid and operational e-tags and who do not pay within seven days will ultimately pay a significantly higher tariff.

BusinessTech reports that “The agency cited costs associated with recovering payment, including invoicing and debt collection, as reasons for the R1.75c punitive tariff per kilometre, compared to the standard tariff of 30c per kilometre for registered users.”

The e-tolling situation is getting so worse that even some companies who use the roads to deliver their goods and services to customers have reportedly told their drivers to avoid e-toll roads. The companies said this was because the tolls were expensive for the companies, and done in the best interests of consumers and customers. Unions have also indicated the tolls were a risk to food security and would have an impact on food prices.

But amid the debate and the momentum it’s gaining, a couple of details are still missing from either Sanral or the media. What is the breakdown of the e-toll money that motorists will be paying if the plan goes ahead as planned? How much goes where, we’d love to know. How much of the money goes to servicing of our roads? How much to the company that built the tolls? And how long will motorists pay; that is, how much will it take for whatever the debt Sanral or government has as a result of the tolls take to pay off?

Details please! Clearly someone is not communicating this piece of information to us. It is Sanral? Is it the media’s fault by not asking these questions, or just not communicating? Facebook and Tweet us your views on this subject; we would love to hear from you.

National ICT Policy review this week

The Department of Communications (DoC) has announced that it will be hosting a two-day ICT Policy Colloquium later this week on the 19 -20 April 2012, at Gallagher Estate. According to the DoC, the aim of the colloquium is to start a process of reviewing all the government ICT policies that have been in existence since 1994.

The Colloquium will have ten commissions chaired by ICT sector experts:

  • Policy and Regulation: Broadcasting
  • Policy and Regulation: Information Technology
  • Policy and Regulation: Telecommunications
  • Policy and Regulation: The Postal Service and its potential in ICT
  • Local Digital Content
  • Digitising Government
  • ICT Investment
  • Human Capital
  • Manufacturing
  • Convergence based ICT Solutions and Services

 South African Minister of Communications, Dina Pule, said that the forum will enable us to converse about how the country can develop ICT policies that will benefit South Africa for the next 20 years, and that the recommendations and decisions that will come out of the Colloquium will form a key component into the policy and development process for an integrated National ICT Policy.

In short, the forum will determine policy around broadcasting, telecommunications, the internet, etc. Sounds pretty important, doesn’t it? It is! And the sectors named above all need some major deliberation on. So will two days be enough to go through all these?

Among some of the areas of concern related to such a forum are the latest media reports about SA’s cellphone pricing being among the most expensive in Africa despite an intervention to regulate the tariffs. The question is, do the telecommunications companies too much power to defy efforts to regulate the prices? What should the policy be regarding this issue? And, what should the role of the regulator, Icasa (Independent Communications Authority of SA), be in this case?

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