Speculation has run rife in recent weeks that Kumalo was the leading candidate for the job. The Sunday Times speculated in a lead story in its Business Times section on 19 February that Kumalo was a “shoo-in” for the position and that his appointment appeared to be a “done deal”.
However, it’s understood that Kumalo has not made himself available to Telkom. He may have been offered the job, only to withdraw, one Telkom source says.
Kumalo did not immediately return a message left on his mobile phone on Tuesday seeking comment.
The top position at Telkom will become vacant on 1 April, when acting group CEO Jeffrey Hedberg steps down. Hedberg has said he is not interested in applying for the job.
Meanwhile, Telkom’s board may announce the group’s new CEO as soon as this week. This weekend, government loses special rights granted to it under a special “class-A” share that afforded it the ability to appoint the group’s chairman and veto the appointment of the CEO. This, and the need for a handover between Hedberg and whoever is appointed as the new CEO, may be placing pressure on Telkom’s board to appoint someone soon.
Last week, Telkom interviewed a number of candidates for the top job. They included Denel CEO Talib Sadik, former Telkom chief financial officer Peter Nelson and current Telkom SA MD Nombulelo “Pinky” Moholi.
If Telkom names its new CEO this week, the appointment will come just a fortnight after cabinet named Lazarus Zim as the group’s new chairman, replacing Jeff Molobela, who was appointed in November 2009. Molobela remains a nonexecutive director on the board, representing government.
Zim, who has already assumed his responsibilities as board chair, is scheduled to meet Telkom’s executive committee on Thursday. It’s not clear if his plan is to introduce a new CEO to the group’s senior management at that meeting.
It’s also still not clear who is the frontrunner for the position. Both Moholi and Nelson have extensive experience at the group. But the board may opt for an outside candidate in the form of Sadik.
Last October, Denel announced that Sadik would not renew his contract when it expires in September 2011. Sadik has been at the troubled state-owned defence company for the past five years, three of those as CEO and two as finance director.
Meanwhile, Telkom has reinstated its former group chief operating officer, Motlatsi Nzeku. Nzeku, who was fired by former CEO Reuben September for allegedly leaking confidential Telkom documents to a Sunday newspaper, has been appointed as CEO of Telkom International.
Hedberg had apparently offered Nzeku the position previously, but he had at first turned it down.
Telkom has been forced to rehire Nzeku after he challenged his dismissal and won an arbitration process. It’s well known that several top Telkom officials blame Nzeku for releasing dossiers that implicate them in unethical and even corrupt behaviour. Nzeku has denied he was behind the dossiers. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral