Telkom should know the name of its new, government-appointed nonexecutive chairman within the next 24 hours.
Cabinet was due to discuss the matter at its scheduled meeting on Wednesday, after which the telecommunications operator was expected to announce the decision by way of a statement on the JSE’s Sens news service.
It is widely expected that Lazarus Zim, a politically well-connected businessman, will replace Jeff Molobela, whose contract expired on Tuesday. TechCentral has been unable to confirm whether Zim will get the job, though senior Telkom sources believe he is the most likely candidate.
Communications minister Roy Padayachie has twice extended Molobela’s contract, which expired in November last year. His term was extended to the end of December, and then again to 15 February, while government deliberated over who should replace him.
Zim, the founder of Afripalm Resources and a former CEO of Anglo American in SA, is a close business associate of Atul Gupta, founder of the Sahara computer group and chairman of TNA Media, publisher of The New Age newspaper.
Government has the right to appoint Telkom’s chairman under special rights it enjoys. Its “class-A” share, which expires on 5 March, gives it a number of rights over ordinary shareholders, including the right to veto the appointment of the group’s CEO.
The first and most important task of Telkom’s new chairman will be finding a permanent CEO. Acting group CEO Jeffrey Hedberg has said he will not apply for the position, and will leave Telkom at the end of March.
A number of senior executives are believed to be interested in the top job. Former Telkom chief financial officer Peter Nelson, who quit the group last year shortly after former CEO Reuben September stepped down, has applied for the job.
Telkom SA MD Nombulelo Moholi is also said to be in the running. Other potential candidates include Molobela and axed former Telkom group chief operating officer Motlatsi Nzeku. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral