The Department of Communications has suspended the activities of the advisory council on digital migration, Digital Dzonga, six months after it was appointed. Digital Dzonga is a 15-member committee made up of broadcasters, signal distributors, labour, consumer groups and the government. The council’s task is to advise C ommunications Minister Roy Padayachie on and oversee the entire process of migrating from analogue broadcasting services to a new digital technology platform. If a resolution is not found soon, t he suspension — which follows the resignation of the Digital Dzonga chairwoman Mamokgethi Setati — might delay the migration process, which is expected to be finalised in December 2013, when the analogue signal is switched off. According to an e-mail sent to the Digital Dzonga members last week and leaked to Business Day, the department said it was "in the process of reviewing the governance model of the digital migration project. You will be notified of the outcome of this review immediately upon completion." A source close to the council said the suspension had raised fears that it may be disbanded again .
Mr Padayachie’s spokesman, Tiyani Rikhotso, said that within Digital Dzonga, there were working groups to address different areas related to the digital migration process, such as public awareness and technical matters. It was the activities of those working groups that had been suspended until the department finalised a model that would both efficiently deliver digital broadcasting to the public and meet the December 2013 deadline. "The council will not be disbanded. It is a critical part of the migration process. We are only reviewing the model of the working groups to clearly define their mandate and ensure there is necessary capacity," he said. The department is expected to finalise the digital migration manufacturing strategy soon. The strategy includes the manufacture of the set-top boxes which will be used to receive digital signal. It has also emerged that the council’s mandate could be reduced to a purely advisory capacity, while the implementation of the migration process could fall under the auspices of the department through a newly established unit. In April last year, the former communications minister, Siphiwe Nyanda, dissolved the Digital Dzonga committee because of allegations of conflict of interest among some of the members, especially manufactures.