Natasha Mazzone – the Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of communications and digital technologies, Natasha Mazzone – somehow finds time to engage in cheap politicking.

Soon after Nonkululeko Dlamini was named the new Telkom CFO on Sunday, (1 October 2023), Mazzone was on her laptop.

In a rush, Mazzone arrogantly declared the DA believed Dlamini would not add any value to the financial management of Telkom, which she described as a state-owned enterprise (SOE).

Dlamini, who recently resigned as Transnet CFO, takes up her new role at Telkom on 1 December 2023.

Unimpressed, Mazzone demanded in her statement that: “The Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Mondli Gungubele, should immediately rescind the deployment of Nonkululeko Dlamini as the new Chief Financial Officer of Telkom.”

 She added: “It is a disgrace that, a few hours after she [Dlamini] jumped the ship before she could be fired as Transnet CFO, Telkom did not waste time in announcing her as their new CFO.

 “The DA completely rejects this clear case of cadre recycling, which has been responsible for the collapse of the SOE sector in South Africa.”

However, Mazzone’s assumption that the African National Congress (ANC) cadre deployment enabled Dlamini to land a new job at an “SOE” is worrying and raises several questions.

Did the DA check if Dlamini was an ANC card-carrying member?

Are all black executives members of the ANC?

On what basis does Mazzone claim that Dlamini was deployed at Telkom?

Why was the outgoing finance boss, Dirk Reyneke, not declared a cadre deployee when he left Absa to join Telkom?

Does cadre deployment only apply to black executives and managers?

Honest answers to these questions render Mazzone’s argument flawed.

 Let’s look at why this is so.

The DA argues that Dlamini’s appointment exemplifies the ANC’s cadre deployment strategy.

The false insinuation is that executives at state-owned or partially-owned enterprises, particularly blacks, were ANC cadre deployees.

This DA stereotype of ANC cadre deployment raises more questions.

Was Mteto Nyati an ANC deployee when he served on the Telkom board?

Did he leave Telkom because Dlamini was appointed or was his move simply a coincidence?

Was Telkom independent director Naidene Ford-Hoon, who resigned on 6 September, also an ANC cadre?

Any insinuation that Telkom’s entire board and executive team was made up of ANC deployees needs to be interrogated,

Here I am talking about Olufunke Ighodaro, Brian Kennedy, Prudence Lebina, Sibusiso Luthuli, Ethel Matenge-Sebesho, Keith Rayner, Ipeleng Selele, Sibusiso Sibisi, Herman Singh, Louis Von Zeuner, Sung Yoon and Geoffrey Qhena.

I think it’s ridiculous to state that this board selected a CFO because they are ANC deployees.

In that regard, Mazzone and the DA must not make statements that are not based on facts.

It is wrong to label, without proof, properly qualified persons employed as executives of SOEs as ANC cadre deployees.

The DA has unreasonably concluded that any black executive at an SOE is a deployed ANC cadre that does not possess any skills to contribute to the advancement of SA corporate.

Such a stance is not only ridiculous, it is insulting and racist.

Yes, South Africa is suffering in many ways as a result of Transnet’s underperformance, but does that make Dlamini an incompetent CFO?

If one goes along with the DA and Mazzone’s untested assumptions, the verdict of incompetence stands.

However, the reasonable question the DA should be asking is whether the Telkom board has made the correct decision by appointing Dlamini.

The DA should be asking the board what qualities they saw in Dlamini that can help Telkom thrive, instead of labeling her an ANC cadre deployee.

Besides, Telkom’s independent status as a JSE-listed company means that it is not strictly an SOE.

The DA’s push for state intervention in an entity not funded through national revenue contradicts the company’s independence, achieved after a hard fight by the late chairman Jabu Mabuza.

As a listed company, Telkom was long freed from the shackles of the sort of state intervention the DA is calling for.

The DA and Mazzone want Minister Gungubele to dance to their tune and reimpose state intervention of a partially state-owned entity.

The fact of the matter is that Telkom is not a public entity.

Telkom is not funded by National Revenue or by way of tax, levy, or other money imposed in terms of national legislation.

The state, in this case, represented by Minister Gungubele, does not have ownership control over Telkom.

Simply put – Telkom is a listed entity governed by the stock market regulations and not by national regulations of a public entity.

I find it hard to believe that a company listed on the JSE (Johannesburg Stock Exchange) would not undergo a stringent recruitment process for such a high-level executive position. This seems highly unusual and unheard of.

Dlamini deserves an opportunity to showcase her capabilities and be assessed solely on her performance.

It’s essential to recognise that not every black person in a position of power is an ANC deployee.

The DA, represented by Mazzone, should refrain from engaging in political gymnastics that seek to defy the independence of listed entities.

They must allow all professionals to be appointed for their abilities and accomplishments.


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