Telkom
Telkom's group CEO Sipho Maseko poses for a photograph after an interview with Reuters in Centurion, South Africa May 28, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko - RC19E559A590

“I feel now is the right time for me to step aside and make way for a new leader who will take Telkom to even greater heights,” Sipho Maseko, Telkom CEO, said on Friday.

Telkom informed investors today that Maseko will leave Telkom next year.

“I will stay on until June 2022 to ensure a smooth transition for my successor. I am most thankful to my colleagues across our country, for trusting me to lead Telkom, and for supporting me throughout this journey of transition.”

Maseko joined Telkom eight years ago from rival Vodacom at a time when the organisation faced severe challenges.

During his eight-year tenure, he turned the business around and evolved it from a traditional fixed business to a portfolio of businesses that comprises the Mobile, IT, Wholesale infrastructure business and the Masts and Tower portfolio.

This is how the turnaround started.

For more read: Telkom sends the right signals, at last

FOR all its stated good intentions, Africa’s largest fixed-line telephone group — Telkom — faces many challenges in a tough environment. Will it come to embody the Japanese proverb that says, in effect, that the most beautiful flowers grow from the rankest dirt?

Despite having suffered a pretty awful lost decade, with many predicting its demise, there is still hope that Telkom can be saved.

But for this to happen, everyone needs to give Telkom’s new management team a reasonable chance to deliver on its yet-to-be-disclosed turnaround strategy.

If the strategy is implemented correctly, Telkom’s recovery will bring welcome relief to its shareholders and South Africans, and will ultimately energise the economy.

The stakes are so high that stakeholders in Telkom cannot afford to have the new management fail. Of course, this should not stop observers from being critical of the new Telkom team, led by chairman Jabu Mabuza, new CEO Sipho Maseko and strategy director Miriam Altman.

Also read: SA will profit from a leaner, more agile Telkom

THIS week’s assertion by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu that “We need to develop new ways of thinking about death and what it means to be allowed to die in dignity” could be a metaphor for Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko and Solidarity Union, regarding tough decisions to save or sink the country’s largest fixed-line telephone group.

Telkom – the lifeblood to the country’s banking industry that enables Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank to operate their automatic teller machines (ATMs) – has endured a decade of declining business, during which time some observers have predicted its demise.

The company is also central to South Africa’s economic growth story – it provides telecoms solutions to the country’s big corporates among its other important functions.

However, Telkom’s core business of fixed-line telephony faces serious challenges of mobile substitution. The company’s decision to establish and invest in Telkom Mobile hasn’t helped matters, because the entity has proved to be a cash guzzler. In addition, political considerations appear to be in the way.

This begs the question: is there a need for Telkom to be dragged into the realm of South African politics?

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