NAIROBI, KENYA, NOVEMBER 2 —Safaricom has termed the move by Tanzanian government to lock out Kenyan Sylvia Mulinge from assuming office at Vodacom Tanzania as water under the bridge.
This follows the recent move by the Tanzania government, through the Labour Commissioner, to decline the former Safaricom Director for Consumer Business a work permit which denied her an opportunity to work in the neighbouring country.
Mulinge who has been inspirational in Safaricom’s enterprise business growth had in April this year been appointed to head Vodacom Tanzania as Chief Executive Officer.
She had been scheduled to assume office on June 1. However, unresolved labour issues saw her denied the opportunity to head operations at the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE)-listed telco. She was to take over from the former boss Ian Ferrao.
Vodacom later said application for Ms Mulinge to work in Tanzania had been declined a move that saw it have Mr Hisham Hendi as the acting chief executive officer.
“We are disappointed and we regret the Labour Commissioner’s decision. We will be engaging with the authorities,” Vodacom Tanzania Chairman Ali Mufuruki said in a recent statement.
Speaking during the release of Safaricom half-year 2019 financial results in Nairobi on Friday, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said the company has moved on with the matter, with Ms Mulinge being absorbed back at the leading telco.
“We have put that stuff behind us and we are happy she is back with us,” Collymore said during the investor briefing event.
Ms Mulinge was reappointed to Safaricom as director in charge of Special Projects effective October 1, reporting directly to the CEO.
“In this role, she will report directly to me and will be responsible of spearheading our commercial revival and help us deliver our strategy,’’ Collymore said in an internal communication.
She is also tasked with working with the company’s commercial teams to restore customer trust and loyalty.
Speaking at the investor briefing, Ms Mulinge said the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) listed firm continues to focus in its growth strategy while ensuring it offers value to its customers.
The challenges behind her securing a work permit reflects the continued stand-off between the two countries which has been reflected in other areas, mainly trade related issues which many experts have termed an impediment to regional integration.
The two countries have for long had trade wars with attempts to resolve them always hitting a snag.
This is despite the much preached East African Community common market aimed at allowing free movement of people and locally manufactured goods.
Sylvia Mulinge joined Safaricom in 2006 from Unilever where she worked as brand manager. At the time of her exit, she was a director in charge of consumer business.
The Food Science and Technology graduate from the University of Nairobi joined the telco in February 2006 as a Prepay Product Manager, and rose through the ranks to become the consumer marketing and brand activation chief.
Throughout her 17-year career, she has built a reputation as one of Kenya’s outstanding business leaders, with more than 10 years’ experience in marketing.