[By Candice Jones]
The resignation of Sentech chairman Quraysh Patel after just seven months in the job has left many concerned about the state-owned company’s future.
His work at the troubled broadcasting signal distributor has been the stuff of legend and there is no doubt he’s done a huge amount to fix the business.
There are many people at Sentech and in the industry more broadly who are concerned that Patel’s time there is ending too soon.
Patel began familiarising himself with the company long before he was appointed the chairman. He was one of the people employed by then communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda as a member of a task team that was asked to take a fine-tooth comb to the goings on at Sentech.
The task team revealed the business was in dire straits and needed saving.
Since then, by most accounts, Patel has worked tirelessly to bring Sentech back from the brink.
Earlier this year Patel presented an ugly report to parliament on the state of Sentech’s finances. But he qualified his presentation, saying that although the outlook looked grim on the surface, the company’s financial bloodletting has been stemmed.
Patel has not been without criticism. As nonexecutive chairman, his active operational participation in the business has raised eyebrows. But without it it’s quite possible Sentech would be in the bin by now.
Through direct intervention, Patel has boosted staff morale. And he’s installed a new CEO, Setumo Mohapi, who appears to be the right man for the job.
Mohapi has vowed to continue the shake up at Sentech by shutting down noncore businesses.
Patel’s decision to leave has been on the cards for a while, and he is hoping to get more directly involved in the telecommunications industry.
His decision was based on the fact that any commercial projects he takes on now could create conflict of interest.
The question now is whether Sentech will maintain Patel’s momentum. The outgoing chairman believes Mohapi will keep Sentech on the right path.
Let’s hope he’s right.