Legal Articles and Guides
The Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) in a landmark judgment delivered yesterday – the same day as President Jacob Zuma eventually appointed a new board of directors at the SABC – limited the powers of the Communications Minister in appointing and firing members of the board. According to a Pretoria News report, Judge Elias Matojane declared several clauses of the amended memorandum of incorporation (MoI) and the SABC charter in respect to the appointment, discipline and suspension of the three executive directors – the group chief executive officer, chief operations officer and chief financial officer – inconsistent with the Broadcasting Act and thus invalid.
The Competition Commission has launched a market inquiry into data services, a move that could result in a big shake-up in the way mobile operators charge for and structure their data plans, says a TechCentral report. The inquiry comes as pressure mounts on operators over high out-of-bundle data charges and aggressive expiry of data bundles.
Blue Label and Net1 have completed the R7.5bn acquisition of a 60% shareholding in Cell C, paving the way for the turnaround of the struggling entity. A Business Day report says Blue Label – which distributes cell phone airtime vouchers and SIM-card starter packs – owns 45% of Cell C, while electronic payment provider Net1 holds 15%.
The Western Cape High Court has ruled in favour of Telkom in a case relating to the unlawful accessing of its infrastructure. An ITWeb report says Telkom brought an urgent application before the court following ‘Vodacom's unlawful use of its infrastructure in the Dennegeur residential estate’.
The policy decision made by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi in 2015 on the encryption capability of government-supplied set top boxes (STBs) for digital migration is not reviewable by a court. This, notes a TimesLIVE report, is the gist of the submission made by Muthambi’s counsel Wim Trengove SC before the Constitutional Court yesterday.
The SABC argued yesterday that Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s appointment was an internal arrangement and did not constitute an exercise of public power, and thus a court could not review it. A News24 report notes that the public broadcaster was applying to the Western Cape High Court for leave to appeal its earlier ruling on Motsoeneng’s appointment as group executive of corporate affairs.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is suing a security firm and seven of the city’s current and former senior staff in the hope of recouping R92.4m spent on CCTV cameras for the beleaguered bus system in Port Elizabeth. According to a TimesLIVE report, the municipality believes the payments – ultimately approved by suspended corporate services boss Mod Ndoyana between November 2013 and September 2014 – were irregular and unlawful as there was no legal contract in place.
The Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) has painted a picture of a biased Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), which acted against Constitutional Court guidelines when its Complaints and Compliance Committee ruled in an ‘irrational and unreasonable’ manner against a DA election advertisement scheduled to be aired on the SABC during the 2014 elections campaign.
Parliament has heard that the manufacture and procurement of set-top boxes – which will be required when digital migration occurs – has been halted pending the conclusion of the legal battle over the non-encryption of the converters. A Business Day report says the Universal Services and Access Agency of SA (Usaasa) – which is implementing the digital migration process – addressed a joint meeting of Parliament's Communications Committee.
Media groups and NGOs took the issues of parliamentary signal-jamming and censoring of live broadcasts to the SCA yesterday, notes Legalbrief. Primedia‚ the SA National Editors Forum‚ the Right2Know Campaign and the Open Democracy Advice Centre approached the court to ensure live broadcasts from Parliament were not censored and that signal jamming devices were not used to block journalists using mobile phones, as had been the case during EFF disruptions of President Jacob Zuma’s State of Nation Address in February 2015.
The controversial Films and Publications Amendment Bill, which seeks to regulate the digital distribution of films and games and has been widely criticised as being unconstitutional, is the focus of attention in Parliamentâ€™s Communications Committee, which is holding public hearings on the Bill this week. Critics argue the Bill is an attempt to censor the Internet in SA and have labelled it â€˜Africaâ€™s worst new Internet censorship lawâ€™, notes a BDlive report.
The knives are out for Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who is not only facing possible arrest by the Hawks tomorrow â€“ he has been asked to present himself at their offices in connection with the alleged â€˜rogue unit' at SARS â€“ but is also the centre of what a News24 report describes as â€˜a massive new forensic probe into deals concluded during his tenure at the organisationâ€™.
The Communications Ministry has taken a hands-off approach to the SABC because it has full confidence in the board, it said yesterday. A BDlive report says the department was responding to reports over recent developments at the public broadcaster, saying Communications Minister Faith Muthambi â€˜chose not to meddleâ€™ in its internal matters.
SABC contributing editor Vuyo Mvokoâ€™s constitutional rights to freedom of expression were infringed by the public broadcasterâ€™s decision to â€˜punishâ€™ him by taking him off air for an article in which he criticised its management. This, says a Weekend Argus report, is argued in Mvokoâ€™s application for leave to appeal against the dismissal of his application to have his contract enforced.
Politically connected businessman Kuben Moodley stands to rake in R380m from a suspect debt-collection deal with the SABC authorised by the broadcasterâ€™s acting CE, James Aguma, according to a Sunday Times report. It notes Moodley is a former special adviser to Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and golf partner of Salim Essa, a kingpin in the Gupta empire.