Telkom not lacking policy direction: Pule

Communications minister, Dina Pule has rebuked suggestions that Telkom lacks policy direction, insisting that the telecoms firm “is a very important company that can assist this country going forward”.

Pule was speaking on Talk Radio 702 on Tuesday (6 November).

Telkom has endured a tumultuous six month period stretching back to late May, when Cabinet blocked a deal between the company and Korea telecoms firm KT Corp, a decision which sparked a collapse in Telkom’s share value, which is down more than 40% in 2012.

Fast forward to October, government, which has a 39.8% stake in Telkom, then further blocked the appointments of four directors at the group’s AGM.

Telkom chairperson Lazarus ZimJulia Hope and Jackie Huntley stepped down from the group’s board.

That was followed by the resignation of CEO Nombulelo Moholi, announced on Monday (5 November).

When questioned whether Telkom lacked policy direction, Pule said: “It is not true…that there is a lack of policy direction. I have personally said immediately after cabinet did not support the KT deal…we have actually said that we are coming back…to assist Telkom to guide as to where we want to go with that entity.

“We think that Telkom is a very important company that can assist this country going forward. We are in the process of preparing a presentation to cabinet, and cabinet is going to be able to guide us as to where to from here.”

“Our short term priority is to make sure that the company has a board, and is stabilised…it can then continue doing its work,” the minister said.

Having blocked the deal KT deal, Cabinet tasked minister Pule to report back to it about all the options that were available for Telkom.

Pule recently said that the DoC expected Cabinet to “pronounce” on the options that are available to find a lasting and sustainable solution for Telkom’s turnaround.

In the dark over resignations

The minister said she was in the dark regarding the sudden, but not totally unexpected resignations of both Moholi and Zim. “I don’t know…all you should understand is that these things will happen everywhere, not only at Telkom, it happens every day in other entities, not only in government or in public entities, it happens in the private sector.”

“People will take decisions…on their lives and where they want to go in terms of their future on a daily basis in one way or another, and they will not necessarily share those decisions of their lives with us.”

“So the resignation of the chairperson, we appreciate he has been with Telkom, he has actually assisted us to run that company and we also want to say that we appreciate the fact that we had Pinky (Moholi) leading that company as a CEO. We want to wish them well in their future endeavour,” Pule said.

Privatisation

When questioned whether it was time to privatise Telkom, Pule, said: “We have not yet taken such a decision…and that decision may not necessarily come from myself as individual as the minister of communications…it’s a policy decision, it’s a decision that has to be taken by the leadership of the country, which means Cabinet.”

“However, as we speak now, we believe as the department of communications, that we have invested…in Telkom, we believe that Telkom can help us to change the lives of people here in terms of ICT.”

Pule said that Telkom had a responsibility to service people in the rural areas, as well as government entities including education institutions, clinics hospitals, and police stations, and “any other government buildings”.

In afternoon trade on the JSE, shares in Telkom declined 19 cents or 1.08% to R17.45.

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Telkom not lacking policy direction: Pule