Opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) were told this in a reply to an official parliamentary question put to communications minister Dina Pule.
Companies and state departments owe the huge total, with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African National Defence Force both claiming insufficient funds as to why they cannot pay the fees.
The answer also revealed Basson Group (owing almost ZAR700,000 (US$78,000)), Vodacom (ZAR65 million (US$7.2 million)) and Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) (ZAR55 million (US$6.1 million)) are all locked in spectrum related disputes with the regulator.
HumanIPO reported earlier this month ICASA raided the offices of WBS and confiscated equipment as it looked to put pressure on them for unpaid fees. WBS disputes the amount it owes.
Other companies that allegedly owe ICASA include Neotel (ZAR35 million (US$3.9 million)), Cell C (ZAR107 million (US$12 million)) and MTN (ZAR14 million (US$1.6 million)).
While welcoming “moves by ICASA to get its house in order”, the DA’s shadow communications minister Marian Shinn said the regulator’s council “must also operate with necessary vigour and political will to ensure that all spectrum users pay their due on time and no longer exploit the inefficiencies of the regulator for their financial advantage”.
ICASA has already come under pressure from the auditor-general and the Portfolio Committee on Communications to collect its fees more effectively and Shinn said she would submit a follow-up question to Pule to find out what steps she is taken to ensure this takes place.