South Africa’s monopoly postal service is neither efficient nor reliable. Mail volumes have dropped and the Post Office continues to lose customers. The IFP does not believe that the corruption and inefficiency which are rampant within the Post Office can be remedied whilst the organisation remains a public sector institution. The Post Office must therefore be privatised as expeditiously as possible.
All South Africans deserve a high quality postal service. New entrants to the market should therefore be obliged, as a condition of their license, to roll out affordable services to areas which are currently under-served. This obligation should be monitored and constantly reviewed by the government or postal service regulatory body. Short term government subsidies or tax incentives should be used to give effect to this objective.
The IFP believes that postal services infrastructure should be capable of serving as points of access to telecommunications information technology by both urban and rural communities. Joint government and private sector strategies should be devised in this regard.
The regulation of postal licences and value added postal services must be conducted an independent body, preferably located within the Department of Trade and Industry.
The government and private sector partnerships should encourage regional and international cooperation in bringing about development opportunities.
Private sector involvement, within a framework of the provision of universal service delivery to all South Africans, must be coupled with education and training and the significant upliftment of previously disadvantaged citizens within the industry and its management.
The IFP believes the that the information revolution should be used in South Africa to promote human rights and democracy, to enrich social interaction, to encourage educational opportunities, to enhance the delivery of government services and to improve the competitiveness of businesses and the economy.
The key principles in the development of telecommunications in South Africa should include: inclusiveness, open access, the enhancement of local culture through the development of local content, the promotion of private investment and competition, a flexible regulatory framework and the use of services to contribute to the economic and social well-being of communities.
New communications services will be fundamental to South Africa’s future. To this end the IFP would introduce full and open competition in the telecommunications sector and promote consumer protection for goods and services purchased by the public.
Access to telecommunications networks for both users and service providers is a fundamental requirement in modern society. However, unless access is provided on an equitable basis, the benefits of emerging communications growth will not be shared by all South Africans. It must be the responsibility of government to ensure that all South Africans enjoy equal access to service delivery.
South Africa faces a complex set of technical, social, economic and regulatory issues, and future telecommunications strategies must balance the development of infrastructure with the development of services. Such strategies must be based on an environment in which participants are brought together in the public interest, and in which policies are developed in response to changing technologies and services. It would be underpinned by a commitment to education and equity of access.
The IFP would establish a national body or Cabinet Committee to pursue public objectives, and would elicit input from visionary and informed people representing the industry, service providers, consumers and researchers.
The IFP supports the government funding of statutory national and provincial public radio and television broadcasters. In return, public broadcasters should provide television and radio programmes which educate, inform and entertain the public. They should also contribute to South Africa’s national identity and reflect the cultural diversity of the nation. Public broadcasters should promote local writers, artists, actors, composers and musicians while presenting a distinctly South African flavour in their choice of programmes.
The IFP believes that only one national television station is affordable but that it would be appropriate to allow for the immediate creation and development of quality provincial public broadcasting services in all provinces.
The IFP supports the independent and liberalised regulation and management of the broadcasting industry and of public broadcasters. A national broadcasting policy must be formulated in consultation with industry stakeholders and the public, in order to meet the diverse broadcasting needs of the country.
The IFP would encourage a vibrant private broadcasting industry (television and radio) by streamlining and liberalising frequency spectrums, facilitating easy access and encouraging competition, and promoting the rapid development of community broadcasting. The IFP also supports concept of tradable spectrum licences.
International Public broadcasting programmes targeted at international audiences would be funded to provide South African perspectives on news, current affairs and information programmes highlighting trading and investment opportunities in South Africa.
South Africa is the largest production base on the African continent. IFP policy is to encourage the multi-faceted manufacturing of broadcasting equipment, and the development of technical expertise in programming, and other services to the broadcasting industry, taking cognisance of the convergence of telecommunications, information and broadcasting technology.