Telkom stays silent on press­ing is­sues

CityPress - - Business - MAMELLO MASOTE mamello.masote@city­press.co.za

Telkom held its an­nual gen­eral meet­ing this week and it was the time to give an­swers to a num­ber of ques­tions – but none was forth­com­ing.

The ques­tions in­cluded the rea­sons chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Jac­ques Schin­de­hütte was leav­ing af­ter an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into per­sonal mis­con­duct and what was hap­pen­ing with CEO Sipho Maseko’s li­cence plateswap claims.

On Schin­de­hütte, chair­per­son Jabu Mabuza only as­sured share­hold­ers that he would not re­ceive a golden hand­shake.

Mabuza said he would only re­ceive what was stip­u­lated in his con­tract be­cause he had cho­sen to re­tire early.

There was much mys­tery around the sus­pen­sion of Schin­de­hütte. Mabuza said he had wanted to leave since for­mer CEO Nom­bulelo Mo­holi had re­signed in late 2012, but he had been asked to stay to en­sure some sta­bil­ity.

Spec­u­la­tion was rife that his sus­pen­sion, which lasted from Oc­to­ber last year un­til his re­cent “re­tire­ment”, had some­thing to do with an in­sider trad­ing in­quiry re­lat­ing to shares he had bought in Septem­ber last year for about R6 mil­lion. But this was dis­missed by Telkom, which said the al­le­ga­tions were of per­sonal mis­con­duct.

Mabuza said the dis­ci­plinary process was prompted by an in­de­pen­dent foren­sic re­port on Schin­de­hütte’s con­duct and that the board would not apol­o­gise for the way it had han­dled the is­sue. He said there was a nondis­clo­sure agree­ment with Schin­de­hütte, which Telkom plans to hon­our. Maseko said his re­place­ment should be an­nounced in two weeks, but would not say if this was an in­ter­nal or ex­ter­nal per­son. The act­ing CFO is deputy CFO Deon Fred­er­icks, who has been over­looked for the po­si­tion sev­eral times in favour of ex­ter­nal ap­point­ments. Mabuza said Maseko’s li­cence plate is­sue was a per­sonal mat­ter.

Maseko has been ac­cused of cloning car li­cence plates. The Star re­ported that he was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Joburg Metro Po­lice Depart­ment for pos­si­bly cloning his car li­cence plates.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, busi­ness­man Mabena Mot­shoane had re­ceived fines to­talling about R30 000 for of­fences that oc­curred al­legedly with his car. But he dis­cov­ered that Maseko had the same plates. In­ci­den­tally, Maseko had sold Mot­shoane his old Range Rover.

“This is a mat­ter of a per­sonal na­ture and we have been sat­is­fied with Sipho’s an­swers that he is sub­mit­ting him­self to the au­thor­i­ties and he’s con­duct­ing him­self within the am­bit of the law,” said Mabuza.

An is­sue Telkom has had to ex­plain is the ap­point­ment of con­sult­ing firm Bain Group to help it with its turn­around strat­egy with­out go­ing through an open bid­ding process.

The ma­jor bone of con­tention is that since gov­ern­ment is the largest share­holder in Telkom (with about 50%), it needs to com­ply with the Public Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act (PFMA), which lays out the pro­ce­dure for state com­pa­nies to pro­cure goods and ser­vices.

Mabuza said since he had be­come chair­per­son, he had ap­pealed to the com­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter to have the des­ig­na­tion of state-owned com­pany re­moved from Telkom. It has the des­ig­na­tion de­spite be­ing partly pri­va­tised and not wholly owned by gov­ern­ment. This means it is ex­empt from some pro­vi­sions of the PFMA, which gov­erns pro­cure­ment for sta­te­owned com­pa­nies. But Mabuza said the board was sat­is­fied with Maseko’s ex­pla­na­tions re­gard­ing the mat­ter.

“The CEO has var­i­ous au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing the ap­point­ment of con­sul­tants,” said Mabuza.

‘RE­TIRED’ For­mer fi­nance chief Jac­ques Schin­de­hütte

MAN WITH A PLAN Jabu Mabuza, Telkom’s chair­man

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