Vodacom Tanzania renews search for new CEO as Sylvia Mulinge’s appointment hits snag

Vodacom Tanzania has now renewed the search for a CEO after it became apparent that Sylvia Mulinge, Safaricom’s previous head of Consumer Business who had been seconded to the telco as CEO from Kenya, has been denied a work permit by the Tanzanian government.

In early April, Safaricom had announced that Ms Mulinge would leave the firm after 12 years and take up a new role as CEO of Vodacom Tanzania in June, replacing Ian Ferrao.

(TOP: Sylvia Mulinge. Photo: LinkedIn). 

However, this was never to be as Vodacom Tanzania has now confirmed that the work permit application for Sylvia Mulinge was declined by the Labour Commissioner.

According to Business Daily, Vodacom Tanzania on Friday September 29, 2018 said that it would now renew the search for Ms Mulinge’s replacement (even though she never took over the position formally).

“Vodacom Tanzania remains fully committed to identifying a candidate that will not only inspire confidence in investors but also have the requisite governance capability as CEO of a listed company… Naturally, we are disappointed, and we regret the Labour Commissioner’s decision. We will be engaging with the authorities. We are confident that Vodacom Tanzania has a strong management team in place to lead the company effectively until the search for a suitable candidate is finalised,” Vodacom Tanzania chairman Ali Mufuruki said in the statement.

Even though the statement did not give reasons for the government’s decision to deny Ms Mulinge a work permit, there have been reports that that the government is convinced that there are more experienced Tanzanians who can be appointed to the CEO position at Vodacom Tanzania instead of importing foreign talent to steer the telco.

This same week, Safaricom announced via an internal memo to its staff that Ms Mulinge had been reappointed to the firm in a new role as the Director of Special Projects (though she’s yet to update her LinkedIn profile to reflect this new position as it still bears her previous position).

As it searches for a substantive CEO, Vodacom Tanzania operations are currently being guided by Hisham Hendi, the telco’s director of Consumer Business Unit and Vodafone veteran who’s held various roles in the Group since 2005 when he joined Vodafone Egypt as Pre-paid Customer Growth Manager. Hendi moved to Vodacom Tanzania in September 2016 from Vodacom South Africa where he’d been the Commercial Director for over 2 years. Maybe the board will decide to confirm him to the position.


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