Telkom must be fully privatised to prevent the company from being plunged into a crisis, the DA said on Monday.
“Should government persist in its naive and dangerous management of Telkom we may well soon see the company come cap-in-hand to parliament asking for a financial lifeline,” Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn said in a statement.
Government holds a direct 39,8% stake in Telkom. “Government has a dismal record in managing state-owned companies and Telkom must not be allowed to become another state-controlled failure.”
The DA’s comments follow Monday’s announcement that Telkom CEO Nombulelo Moholi had resigned.
“The news … is tragic and further proof that seasoned professionals find communications minister Dina Pule’s amateurish and reckless meddling in the affairs of a listed company intolerable,” Shinn said. “This [meddling] has jeopardised the legality of operations of the listed company.”
The company’s board director Neo Phakama Dongwana also resigned.
Once the “current vacancies” on the board were filled, it would start looking for a new CEO.
Trade union Solidarity said Telkom needed to find a “worthy successor” to Moholi. “Moholi is one of several Telkom CEOs who have resigned over the past year and her resignation will contribute to further instability in the company,” spokesman Marius Croucamp said in a statement.
He said the company had been plagued by recent problems, such as a R449m Competition Tribunal fine for “bullying” potential competitors, a failed bid by Korea’s KT Corp to buy a 20% stake in the parastatal, and weak financial prospects.
At Telkom’s annual general meeting (AGM) in October, Pule managed to vote off four board members. The AGM was last chaired by Lazarus Zim after he announced his resignation as Telkom chairman in September. Moholi previously rejected speculation that she intended resigning after Zim left.
Moholi was appointed as CEO in April last year, after acting head Jeffrey Hedberg decided earlier in 2011 not to renew his contract.
She became the first black woman to head up a JSE-listed telecommunications company. She was previously Telkom’s chief sales and marketing officer from 2002 to 2005, before moving on to Nedbank for three years. In 2009, she returned to Telkom as SA MD. — Sapa