Dodgy Telkom deals under investigation — including one where it made a R7 billion loss

President Cyril Ramaphosa has issued a proclamation directing the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate allegations of maladministration and misconduct at Telkom.

The president referred several dodgy deals to the anti-corruption watchdog, including Telkom’s sale of its Nigerian Multi-Links operation in 2011.

Late communications minister Roy Padayachie revealed in July 2011 that Telkom made a R7 billion loss on Multi-Links since it first acquired the business in March 2007.

In addition to the Multi-Links debacle, Ramaphosa also referred the SIU to investigate allegations of maladministration in the affairs of Telkom concerning the sale of iWayAfrica and Africa Online Mauritius in 2013.

iWayAfrica was formed as the result of a merger between Mweb Africa and Africa Online in 2007 when Telkom acquired Mweb Africa.

Former Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko, who stepped down at the end of 2021, said at the time that Telkom struggled to drive growth and profitability in the iWayAfrica business after it was acquired.

Ramaphosa instructed the watchdog to investigate any losses or prejudice Telkom or the state suffered.

The president also instructed the SIU to investigate allegations of unauthorised, irregular, or fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred by Telkom or the state with several Telkom contracts.

These contracts relate to telegraph services — telex and telegrams — and advisory services in respect of the broadband and mobile strategy of Telkom.

According to Ramaphosa proclamation, the SIU must investigate whether the contracts were not fair, equitable, transparent, competitive or cost-effective, or contrary to applicable legislation, guidelines, and policies.

While the proclamation highlights the period from 1 June 2006 to the present day, it does not limit the SIU to events that occurred during this period if they are linked to the investigation.

Ramaphosa directed the SIU to recover any losses suffered by Telkom or the state as a result of any:

  • Serious maladministration
  • Improper or unlawful conduct by Telkom employees
  • Unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property
  • Intentional or negligent loss of public money or damage to public property
  • Unlawful or improper conduct by any person which has caused or may cause serious harm to the interests of the public

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Dodgy Telkom deals under investigation — including one where it made a R7 billion loss