A major announcement was made in the Zimbabwe ICT industry and everyone missed it! Either that or it was never made. Kwanayi Kashangura, the founder and ‘erstwhile’ CEO of Africom, who was ousted from the job in what was reported to be a boardroom coup, is now back at the helm of the company. And it’s a higher position than we remember; he’s now Africom Group CEO.
Without making a big deal of the big deal, Kashangura’s return and new position in the company was tucked away in a small caption to his picture in an Africom supplement published in newspapers yesterday. The picture in question appeared in a statement from him titled “A re-energised Africom”.
A little background;
- July 2011 – Kwanayi Kashangura who was CEO of the Africom is ousted as reports suggest that local businessman Simba Mangwende is set to replace him as interim CEO. Though clearly ousted as Mangwende could now be seen at the Africom HQ in Harare meeting with staff and managing the place, Kashangura insists to numerous sources that he was still CEO of the company.
- October 2011 – Simba Mangwende, the interim CEO and Farai Rwodzi (an Africom shareholder) are arrested on charges of espionage. They are also accused of flouting Zimbabwe’s telecommunications regulations by installing satellite infrastructure and VoIP equipment without a license to do so. The former charge is dropped, and the two are to be acquitted of the later in March 2012.
- November 2011 – Reports come out that Africom Chief Commercial Officer, Rudo Mudavanhu, has been appointed by interim CEO (see the interim CEO was in jail awaiting trial) by none other than Kashangura himself.
- December 2011 – A local weekly, The Financial Gazette, reports that Kashangura has made a plea to the Africom board for them “ to act as if his exit was amicable”. The paper says: “The plea was made after it became clear that investment behemoths, Old Mutual and the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), were determined to kick him out of the telecoms business”. More by the paper: “He also prayed for the board to ignore evidence of serious financial deficiencies unearthed by forensic auditors, Ernst & Young, claiming his alleged acts of delinquency were ‘not deliberate’.”
- March 2012 – Simba Mangwende and Farai Rwodzi are acquitted of all charges. We learn that Simba Mangwende had actually resigned from the interim CEO position way before the expiry of his tenure (July 2011 – December 2011). Too hot in the kitchen perhaps. In a press statement Africom emphatically tells Zimbabwe to stop referring to Mangwende and Rwodzi as “Africom Bosses”. Africom also uses the opportunity to announce and congratulate a new Africom board chairman, Paul Chimedza. Strangely, Chimedza’s appointment dates back December 2011.
- April to September 2012 – Nothing in the public, but clearly a lot going on at the company.
- October 2012 – Kwanayi Kashangura reappears as Group CEO as he announces a “re-energised Africom”.
In his statement yesterday, Kashangura does briefly reference the disputes last year:
While we have retained unwavering focus in tour of duty, during the later year of 2011, this continental project, suffered from an unexpected setback. It took the form of an attempted hostile takeover, engineered by greed and unsustainable interests driven by short term gains. This too has come to pass and our resolve to get the African community to connect to success strengthened
If you’re wondering what now becomes of Rudo Mudavanhu who was acting CEO of Africom, the supplement yesterday she is “chief commercial officer for Africom Holdings and is currently acting CEO”. CEO of continental we presume. We have contacted Africom for clarification.