South Africa’s telecom operator, Telkom, has reportedly filed court papers objecting to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s proclamation order instructing the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe the company’s acquisitions and other corporate activities dating back to 2006.
In a notice filed recently, Telkom said it had asked the high court to prevent the SIU from proceeding with the investigation until the court hears the second part of its application, requesting the court to set aside the proclamation, adding that the investigation by the SIU is unlawful, unconstitutional, invalid and of no force or effect.
The high court has indicated that the respondents — the SIU, the President, the minister of communications and digital technologies, and Edward George Scott — have 15 days to respond on whether they will oppose the motion.
In January, the SIU was given the authority to investigate various transaction activities dating back to 2006. The SIU will look into maladministration concerning the sale or disposal of iWayAfrica and Africa Online Mauritius and Nigerian company Multi-Links Telecommunications.
The SIU will also investigate contracting for or procurement of telegraph services (telex and telegrams) and advisory services in respect of the broadband and mobile strategy of Telkom, by or on behalf of the company, and payments made in respect thereof. Including improper or unlawful conduct by employees and officials or agents of Telkom.
In 2007 the telecom operator bought Africa Online, an internet service business that was based in Kenya and had operations in eight other countries, and a 75 per cent stake in MultiLinks, Nigerian’s first private telephone operator, marking the group’s first expansion outside South Africa as part of its strategy to diversify and grow revenues.
Telkom bought the remaining 25 per cent of MultiLinks in 2009 and had plans to spend billions of dollars on expanding the business. Telkom spent north of US$591 million in acquiring MultiLinks.