Uganda has deported the CEO of MTN’s Ugandan subsidiary, less than a month after the East African country did the same to its chief marketing officer, its head of sales and distribution, and its head of mobile financial services.
In a statement before markets opened in Johannesburg on Friday, MTN Group said it has learnt that Wim Vanhelleputte was deported from Uganda, reportedly to Belgium.
“MTN has not been notified of the grounds for the deportation and is working hard to establish precise reasons,” it said in the statement.
“We are understandably concerned about these developments and are engaging with the authorities to seek understanding that would lead us to resolving this matter.”
In January, the country deported MTN Uganda chief marketing officer French national Olivier Prentout after he was detained at Entebbe airport upon returning from an international business trip. It also deported Rwandan national Annie Bilenge Taburi, its head of sales of distribution. Reports at the time suggested police had deported the duo after accusing them of planning to compromise national security.
Elza Muzzolini, MTN Uganda’s head of mobile financial services, was also told to leave the country.
MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month. In a tweet issued by the group at the time — and retweeted by Shuter — it said the CEO reaffirmed MTN’s “commitment to Uganda” in the meeting. They discussed “recent developments in the market”, the tweet said, without elaborating.
Reuters reported ahead of the meeting that Museveni had criticised Uganda’s telecommunications regulator in a letter late last year after it cut MTN’s licence renewal fee from US$100-million to $58-million. The news agency said Museveni wrote in his letter — which was dated 19 November 2018 — that MTN Uganda had, during its two decades of operation in the country, “reaped vast profits, most of which have obviously been repatriated”.
“To ensure business continuity, we have appointed Gordian Kyomukama, currently chief technology officer, as acting CEO” of MTN Uganda, the group said in Friday’s statement. “Our focus continues to be on delivering the best quality products and services to our customers. MTN Uganda is fully committed to respecting and operating within the laws of the country.” — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media