Grade: Too early to say
When Yunus Carrim took up his position as minister of communications in July this year, he had big (or should we say expensive?) shoes to fill. As minister Dina Pule minced her way out of the department, she left the footprints of corruption, mismanagement and dissension in her wake. When Carrim took up the mantle, the department of communications was at best weak and divided; at worst it had become a playground for political vengeance, side-taking and one-upmanship.
His predecessor had in effect dismissed from her position in President Jacob Zuma`s latest Cabinet reshuffle. Pule left in a cloud of shame, having been publicly ousted for hooking up her boyfriend, Phosane Mngqibisa, with a R6‑million contract in return for four days` work managing the now-infamous ICT Indaba in 2012.
One of Carrim`s new responsibilities is to preside over a special investigations unit that has been probing the alleged misconduct of more than 1 400 employees at the SABC for the past three years.
Not only had the leadership of Carrim`s predecessor been discredited, but so too had that of the department`s director general, Rosey Sekese.
Pule had suspended her for a human resources-related misdemeanour, after which Sekese took her to the labour court over the matter and won. But though Sekese regained the legal right to keep her job, many department members are said to have refused to work with her.
The department needs to negotiate the information and communication technology policy review (a broadscale green paper review of policy in the industry), a new broadband policy and the roll-out of the digital terrestrial television programme.
Facing these unenviable challenges, Carrim stepped into his position with a refreshing vigour. By all accounts he is lively, enthusiastic and extremely hard-working. And perhaps the biggest contrast between him and Pule is that he gets things done, quickly.
Carrim`s main aim between now and next year`s elections is to ensure the communications department is functional and cohesive. He has been filling key positions that have long been vacant, but some observers are sceptical.
With a term of only nine months, they fear Carrim`s focus is overly short-term. They speculate that his speedy appointments for senior positions in the department could prove to be premature. Others say he is a big talker but not a big listener, and not one to invite dissenting views from his own.