Poison Ivy kicks the bucket

Posted by Minnaar Pieters 07 Apr 2009
Yes this is technology related news in South Africa. Ivy Matsepe-Casaburi died last night in a Pretoria hospital. She was 71 years old. Ivy was appointed the Minister of Communication after the 1999 elections.

Zapiro's classic "Poison Ivy" Cartoon

While she was said to be a wonderful person with a happy cheerful attitude, she is perhaps the greatest reason why South Africa is currently suffering from poor internet connectivity and high prices. She prevented a competitive industry from forming when South Africa needed it the most. She constantly made decisions that was to the advantage of Telkom, in which the government is a majority shareholder.

After years of incompetence, Altech took her to court last year, seeing as she did not honour her promises in letting Value added networks build their own networks. She made the promise in 2004, and finally the industry toppled her. Now any VAN can build their own network, not thanks to her, but only 5 years later.

Her performance as a communication minister has been abysmal, and for some reason she was never taken out of her post. The fact of the matter is that she should have never, ever been in charge of communications. Its just another sad case in SA politics where the wrong person got the job. Its not about what you know, but whom you can help out (in this case Telkom).

While it is sad that she has died, and I feel sorry her family and friends, Toby Shapshak might have stated the point better than anyone:

"I am deeply sorry for her family and friends and offer my condolences. A death in the family is a painful thing.

But in the ten years she was Communications Minister she has wrecked a decade of unnecessarily high telecoms costs on this country’s economy, strangled any kind of meaningful internet industry from developing and irreparably hurt South Africa’s global competitiveness. All this while making the country’s citizen’s pay - literally - for Telkom’s ineptitude and inexplicable protectionism of what should be a cheap utility, not a profit centre for government coffers."

Well said.
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I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.