Analyst questions timing of Ramaphosa authorising SIU probe into Telkom

The president gave the unit the green light to investigate the network giants' botched expansion into Nigeria and Mauritius, following corruption and maladministration allegations dating as far back as 2006.

Telkom generic. Picture: Telkom on Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Data analyst Bryan Turner said that President Cyril Ramaphosa's call for the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe Telkom's affairs may be in retaliation for the company's efforts in hindering the urgent release of radio frequency spectrum.

The president gave the unit the green light to investigate the network giants' botched expansion into Nigeria and Mauritius, following corruption and maladministration allegations dating as far back as 2006.

The probe involves the sale of iWayAfrica, Africa Online Mauritius, and Multi-links Telecommunications Limited.

Telkom has dragged South Africa's telecommunications regulator Icasa and the government to court to block efforts to auction and release of new spectrum, calling the process unfair and unlawful.

Turner said that it was not clear what prompted Ramaphosa to order the SIU investigation so many years after Telkom's ill-fated expansion.

"It's a very peculiar investigation to launch especially since its age is quite an old matter. We are wondering why this investigation was launched other than the fact that at the end of the year at the ANC conference one of the cornerstone policies that President Ramaphosa had to have got in place is the digital migration and what facilitates that is Icasa's invitation to apply for spectrum. Because Telkom is launching their legal action, it may delay this to next year," Turner said.

Meanwhile, Telkom has responded to Ramaphosa's move, saying that it was awaiting further clarity on the scope of the SIU's investigations into the company's affairs and alleged wrongdoing.