Controversial former SABC chairman Eddie Funde has died, the department of telecommunications & postal service said on Tuesday night.
The ANC veteran, who became embroiled in a scandal involving Sentech and Screamer Telecommunications about eight years ago, died on Tuesday morning of a heart attack. He had an extensive career in telecoms and broadcasting in South Africa and most recently served as South Africa’s ambassador to Germany.
Telecoms minister Siyabonga Cwele said in a statement that Funde was a “pioneer” of the post-apartheid ICT policy and regulatory environment.
“His life-long activism for the upliftment of black people influenced the trajectory of the telecoms sector in South Africa and the region,” Cwele said.
Funde helped develop the 1996 white paper on telecoms policy that resulted in the formation of the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. He later led Satra as its deputy chair.
He was also founding chair of the Telecommunications Regulators of Southern Africa, which has since been renamed Communications Regulators Association of Southern Africa, and served as deputy chair of the Presidential National Commission on Information Society and Development.
Other responsibilities in the sector included serving as the chair of the SABC board and as the founding chair of the South African Communications Forum.
His work “laid the foundation for the regulation and liberalisation of the telecoms sector”, Cwele said. “One of the noted successes of this liberalisation was the introduction of new entrants in the sector.”
However, his career was somewhat stained in 2010 when reports emerged of a dodgy spectrum deal involving Sentech. The Mail & Guardian reported at the time that the spectrum leasing deal, with a company called Screamer Telecommunications, had allegedly benefited Funde financially in an “illegal deal to sell wireless broadband spectrum”. — © 2018 NewsCentral Media