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CAPE TOWN - The Inkatha Freedom Party on Sunday urged Communications and Digital Technologies Minster Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to take action to curb the "exorbitant" costs of data and telephone calls in South Africa. 

Ndabeni-Abrahams had "misled Parliament" by not honouring the seven-day deadline she promised the communications portfolio committee during the mini-plenary debate on the budget for her department, IFP spokesperson Zandile Majozi said on Sunday.

"Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams told Parliament that she will speedily issue a policy directive to Icasa [Independent Communications Authority of South Africa] for the licensing of the high demand radio frequency spectrum within seven days," Majozi said. 

This was after President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his state-of-the-nation address, raised the matter, as did Finance Minister Tito Mboweni months ago. 

"It is not the first time that minister Ndabeni-Abrahams has missed the deadline and this shows that she is not serious and responsive to the plight of millions of South Africans, rural and urban, and in particular the youth, who cannot afford exorbitant data costs and telephone calls." 

Ndabeni-Abrahams had been expected to issue the policy directive to Icasa by the end of April 2019, but at the last minute unexpectedly deferred it to after the May 8 general election.

It was now almost three months after the election, "yet we still do not have any definitive answer delaying a process which could open up the industry and ensure that small and medium enterprises benefit". 

"Icasa is expected to license access to the spectrum to telecoms providers which are still waiting. We urge minister Ndabeni-Abrahams to walk her talk and prioritise the policy directive to Icasa," Majozi said.

African News Agency (ANA)