Vodacom settles DRC dispute for good

Vodacom International Limited (VIL) has settled its multi-million Rand dispute with its “political fixer” in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), effectively ending all related legal action against the company in that country. This is according to a report in the City Press on 26 May 2013.

Beyond confirming the settlement, Vodacom was unwilling to disclose details – such as the amount paid, stating that the terms of the settlement were confidential.

Vodacom did not respond to a question by the City Press asking if it was appropriate to hide from shareholders a potential multi-million Rand payment.

The settlement was noted in Vodacom’s recent financial year 2013 results, in which is was stated: “The claim brought by Namemco Energy (Pty) Limited against VIL (Vodacom International Limited) was settled during the year”.

This news follows a saga in which VIL was initially sued for R396-million by Moto Mabanga, a “political fixer” who assisted Vodacom to enter into the DRC market by providing advice and assistance on economic, socio-political, and security conditions in the country.

This included navigating “government relations issues” and assisting the relationship between Vodacom and its DRC partner, Congolese Wireless Network, the City Press reports.

In March 2012, a DRC court ordered VIL to pay Mabangu R159-million. Vodacom refused, leading the court to order that VIL’s stake in Vodacom DRC be seized and auctioned off.

However, this auction was suspended pending the outcome of “certain legal proceedings”, Vodacom said in a statement, without giving further details.

Publicly, Vodacom representatives shared strong words about the legal case.

In October 2012, Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said he did not anticipate Vodacom would be paying the claimed amount (R174-million), and that they had a strong case.

Vodacom spokesperson Richard Boorman said that “there is zero legal justification for Mr Mabanga’s contractual claim and we challenge him to provide one.”

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Vodacom settles DRC dispute for good