- More heads to roll
The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC’s $5.2 billion fine on Africa’s largest telecommunications, MTN, has forced the resignation of
Sifiso Dabengwa as the CEO. MTN was fined N200, 000 for each 5.1 million unregistered subscribers not disconnected from its network according to NCC’s directives which other GSM operators complied with.
Dabengwa is the first casualty. However, Nigerian Pilot learnt that more casualties will follow because the administrative lapse that caused the fine would lead to a major over haul of the management of MTN Nigeria.
Following the development, Phuthuma Nhleko has been assigned as Executive Chairman in a temporary capacity of 6 months until the company appoints a substantive CEO.
Debengwa in a statement made available in Abuja stressed that under the prevailing circumstances in which MTN Nigeria has been indicted by NCC and resultantly fined $5.2 billion, the most honourable thing for him to do is to resign his position. “Due to the most unfortunate prevailing circumstances occurring at MTN Nigeria, I, in the interest of the company and its shareholders, have tendered my resignation with immediate effect.”
Nhleko, the current Non-executive Chairman has agreed to act as Executive Chairman for a maximum period of 6 months while the Company shops for another CEO.
Nhleko served as Non-executive Director and Chairman of MTN from July 2001 until June 2002 and thereafter as an executive director, Group President and CEO until March 2011. He has subsequently chaired the Group in a Non-executive capacity for the past two and a half years.
On his part, Nhleko said that he would work with NCC in finding ways of resolving the situation. “I will assume responsibility as Executive Chairman for the next 6 months as I proactively deal with the Nigerian regulator and will continue to work with them in addressing the issues around unregistered subscribers as a matter of urgency,” commented Nhleko.
Meanwhile, the Vice President of South Africa, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, who is a former chairman of MTN Group, has called on MTN Nigeria to respect the sanctions imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.
Ramaphosa, who acknowledged MTN’s wrong doing and the resultant fine admitted, while addressing lawmakers in Cape Town, that the sanctions would affect South Africa’s revenue generation but insisted that MTN and other South African companies should follow the operating rules of their host countries.
“We will obviously be taking note of what is happening with a view of seeing how the company involved responds and reacts in this matter,” he said, adding that “We would like our companies to comply with the laws and regulations of countries where they operate, without violating those.”
It will be recalled that the 5.2 billion dollar fine was imposed on the company in October after it failed to deactivate unregistered SIM cards from its network.
The company, which has about 60 million subscribers in Nigeria, had been negotiating with the Nigerian authority on the fine, but a source at the NCC said that the commission had turned down a request for downward review of the fine.
MTN has November 26 as deadline to pay up the fine and NCC has insisted that there would be shifting of grounds on either the fine or deadline.