Fourteen days ago, we had two stories on the Telecel ownership issues and these articles couldn’t have been more contrasting.
In the initial article we reported that James Makamba had been booted out and the Telecel issues had been resolved. Later that afternoon statements released by Makamba’s lawyers and a statement sent to Telecel CEO –Angeline Vhere- and company secretaries to the effect that the ownership structure had not shifted.
After seeing this document we thought we finally had a definitive position on Telecel’s issues, but it seems the issues are not at all resolved. Now ,according to the Independent, though Makamba is trying to fight of Gerald Mlotshwa’s takeover it seems he will not win this battle. It is now just a matter of when the takeover will happen and not if.
The independent reports that because of Makamba’s dire financial situation he will be forced to give in. Mlotshwa is demanding that Makamba either return the $4 million he was paid for equity or he take the issue to courts.
According to sources who communicated to The Independent:
At the moment, they control the management of the company. The MD is reporting daily to an unnamed board member on the Telecel board who represents the interests of a rival consortium working on the pretext that it is executing a Government mandate to acquire the 40% Empowerment Corporation owns in Telecel. They want that 40% for themselves. These people are literally trying to find ways to frustrate the elevation of Mlotshwa as chairman. Makamba has sensed this and is exploiting it to the fullest, hence the U-turns and denials he is making like the master businessman he is. Makamba would have been history at Telecel as far back as August last year when the original EGM (extra-ordinary general meeting) was called had it not been for these silly manoeuvres by the rival consortium.
Mlotshwa’s insists that Makamba is out…
The letter (above) which Makamba claimed to be from Telecel’s company secretaries does not mean anything to Mlotshwa. According to Mlotshwa -who was asked for comment- Carlton Consultants are not the company secretaries of Telecel. He doubled down and went on to say they are in no capacity to comment since they did not attend the EGM.
Mlotshwa -who happens to be the son-in-law of President Mnangagwa- accused Makamba of constantly switching lawyers in order to confuse people. He said, Scanlen and Holderness, Makamba’s other lawyers had agreed to finalise the sale of his shares:
We just gave effect to that. If he thinks he wants more money, then he should stop barking and say so quietly, but I am holding the figure we agreed. There was a lawful and binding reconvened EGM of Telecel that took place on Thursday 7th June, 2018 at Telecel headquarters. That meeting called by Makamba himself, noted and approved his resignation as chairman and signed by himself.
It also noted the sale of 68% of his shares in Empowerment Corporation, in terms of agreements and minutes signed by himself… There are photographs showing him signing these minutes… now he wants to deny his own signatures and image? … I think that the correct place for him to do that it is in the courts if he wishes to do so.
I am holding his US$11 million balance, and if he does not want it he simply repays the deposit of US$4 million (US$2.75 million plus interest) he was paid and we can all shut up and I will happily reappoint him as Telecel chairman in another EGM. Some of these things are simple and straight-forward.
Mr Mlotshwa had some very strong words and at this point it’s hard to know what is what or who is actually wrong or right. This dispute has been dragged for the past three years and the frequency with which it has been covered in media over the past two months suggest tensions and the urgency of the situation has been rising.
The statement released by Makamba was issued out by Chinyama & Partners, and now Mlotshwa mentions Makamba signed the agreement to sell his stake using different lawyers i.e. Scanlen and Holderness. If this is indeed true it would be a bit strange but at this point it seems that Makamba and Mlotshwa have reduced each other to a war of words.
More is less?
The debacle at Telecel has been an interesting one to cover. As more details emerge the issue gets cloudier and cloudier and it will be interesting to see how long James Makamba can keep dodging bullets and remain as chairman at Telecel.