Vodacom gets scorched by political heat from ANC

First, Sasol was subtly ordered to pump up its performance in line with the secret wishes of the country’s new ruling elite. Bheki Khumalo, the former presidential spokesman, left amid speculation he was closely aligned to the old guard.

Vodacom, the country’s biggest cellphone operator, now also looks set to feel the same political heat from the ANC.

One of the bidders for a stake in the cellphone operator’s empowerment pie belongs to Bulelani Ngcuka, the former Scorpions boss, husband of Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and chief persecutor of ANC president Jacob Zuma.

Ngcuka is an ally of Mbeki, the man who fired Zuma as South Africa’s deputy president.

The new ANC leadership, according to Business Report on Monday, has raised concerns about the lack of broad-based partners in a consortium which includes Ngcuka bidding for a stake in Vodacom.

They actually seem to be at odds only with Ngcuka, who led corruption charges against Zuma in his days at the helm of the National Prosecuting Authority.

Why am I not surprised to hear Jessie Duarte, the ANC spokeswoman, say the organisation does not get involved in deals and that the matter had not been discussed?

They simply have no need to crow about the changes they want and make in business. Mbeki never did.

The unfortunate aspect of political involvement is that it delays Vodacom’s plans to change its ownership structure in line with the country’s laws, thus denying the empowerment players a chance to rake in the dosh in the multibillion cellphone explosion.

The ANC’s constant meddling in the affairs of business is not good.

Petty shortsightedness and settling of political scores by the ANC delays the transformation it demands.

Let business get on with business and, in Vodacom’s case, spreading the butter among those privileged enough to become empowered.

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Vodacom gets scorched by political heat from ANC