Friday, August 10, 2007

Safcom's Ukweli Tarriff

In a post last week, I asked: "What has become of the PIC Chairman Justin Muturi's promise to get to the bottom of the [Safaricom ownership] affair?" Well, the Siakago MP seems to be responding.

Today's Nation reports that the parliamentary watchdog committee is recommending the suspension of the firm’s public sale of shares, valued at Kshs. 34 billion, till the issue of who owns 10% of the company is resolved. The PIC states in a report that the shareholding was irregularly transferred to either Mobitelea Ventures Ltd or Vodafone Plc and demands its immediate return to Telkom Kenya.

The report further suggests that the share in question, once transferred, should be held in trust for the public and be factored into the privatisation of the company and that the Communications Commission of Kenya CEO John Waweru step aside "until the investigations are completed" for his roles on the board of the defunct Kenya Posts and Telecommunication Corporation and Telkom at the time of when transfer of the share in question took place. The MPs also want those officials who approved the transfer of Safaricom shares in 1999 barred from holding public office.

Curiously, though, the committee report states that "Mobitelea Ventures is not based in nor does it operate in Kenya" which flies in the face of reports in the East African that Mobitelea Ventures Ltd. was, at least till 2000 a non-trading arm of Telkom Kenya.

Let us hope the truth will out sooner rather than later. Either way, Safcom will pay a steep price for the deception.

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