SA space agency AAD launch delayed


The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has postponed the launch of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) that was set for the Africa Aerospace Defence (AAD) exhibition next week.

Now new date has been set. The agency was created early last year, when then-President Kgalema Motlanthe signed the National Space Agency Act into law. Its mandate is to promote the peaceful use of space, foster research in space science and communications navigation, and promote international co-operation in space-related activities.

Cabinet in June announced SANSA’s inaugural board, saying they would serve with effect June 1 2010 until May 31 2014. The board is:
* Mr M Magugumela (Chairman)
* Mr L Annamalai
* Dr EJO Gavin
* Mr VC Gore
* Ms J Lawrence
* Mr P Maine
* Capt MD Mamashela
* Dr LA McKinell
* Ms L Mogudi
* Mr T Ratsheko
* Dr RJ Scholes
* Ms R Sekese
* Ms VB Titi
* Mr M Zondi

The appointments came about seven months after the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in consultation with the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology finalised a shortlist of candidates. The board that will oversee the agency, monitor research priorities and programmes, and carry out the agency’s strategy, is made up of representatives from government services, civil society and the military.

Chairman Maurice Magugumela is from the National Nuclear Regulator. Other government representatives are Dr Robert Scholes from the CSIR; Rosey Sekese, Deputy Director General (DDG) for ICT infrastructure at the Department of Communications, and Brenda Titi, a DDG at the Department of Agriculture, Captain Mpho Mamashela of the Air Traffic Navigation Service (an agency of the Department of Transport) and Rhodes University physicist Dr Lee-Anne McKinnell.

Not given the Cabinet nod are short-listees Nomfuneko Majaja, Head of 2010 Operations at SA Airways; Francois Anderson of the CSIR and Bennett Kwanele Siziba, the latter a counter-intelligence, weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation expert with the National Intelligence Agency and Magalies Water CEO Jacqueline Simangele Sekgobela.

Civil society representatives include EDI Holdings executive manager Leeandran Annamalai, Vincent Gore, Business Connexion’s Joy-Marie Lawrence (an expert on space and satellite law), Tsheko Ratseheko and Sage Wise MD Louisa Mogudi. Not on the board is EVI Capital Partners CEO Zola Fihlani, Potlaki Maine, consultant Themba Buthelezi, financial consultant Carla Sharp and retired engineering professor Gideon de Wet.

In answer to a Parliamentary question last week, the DST said the board held its first meeting on July 15, 2010. The DST adds security screening “and other clearances of shortlisted candidates, and consultation process with Cabinet about the appointment of the SANSA Board delayed the announcement of the SANSA board members.” It added the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) conducts the security screening on its behalf. “After approval of the shortlist by the National Assembly on November 5, 2009, the Minister of Science and Technology embarked on a process of informing Cabinet about the appointment of the SANSA Board before an official appointment or announcement was made. A public announcement of the SANSA Board will be made on September 22 … during [AAD] where SANSA will be officially launched.