Vodacom Tanzania has appointed an acting managing director after it failed to unlock a work permit stalemate that has kept Safaricom's former executive Sylvia Mulinge from taking up the position five months since her appointment.
The telco, which is majority owned by South African Vodacom Group, said that Hisham Hendi will hold the position until the issue is resolved.
“Mr Hisham Hendi has assumed the role of acting managing director from September 1, 2018 until such time the on-boarding process of the substantive managing director is completed,” Vodacom said in a notice posted on its website.
Mr Hendi, who has over 15 years of commercial experience, has been Vodacom Tanzania’s director of Consumer Business Unit having joined the firm in 2016.
On Tuesday, Ms Mulinge, a Kenyan, who until her appointment worked as Safaricom’s director for consumer business confirmed that she is yet to secure a work permit from Tanzanian authorities, but remained hopeful that she will soon clear the hurdle and assume leadership of the telecom firm.
“Have you met any Kenyan who is trying to get work permit in Tanzania? It takes a while. They just told us to be patient as they work on it,” she said.
“They have not given us any negative feedback and neither have they confirmed. They just told us to wait as they follow the process.”
The Tanzania High Commission website says foreigners seeking to work for companies or institutions in the country are required to obtain a Class B residence permit.
The expatriate is, however, not allowed to enter the country before the Residence Permit Class B is granted, a condition that has made it impossible for Ms Mulinge to report to office before the process is completed.
“Residence permit Class B is issued to foreign expatriates with rare professional skills to work for the companies in Tanzania,” states the website.
Ms Mulinge was picked to replace Ian Ferrao, the former MD who exited in May having seen the firm list on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange in August last year.
In the latest annual report, he wished Ms Mulinge well as “she takes on this challenging but rewarding position.”
Vodacom Tanzania chairman Ali Mufuruki had also welcomed Ms Mulinge’s appointment, saying he was confident in her ability to take Vodacom to greater heights using leadership experience from Safaricom.
“Sylvia has extensive experience of launching innovative products that have augmented Safaricom’s financial performance and transformed the lives of its customers over the years,” said Mr Mufuruki.
Ms Mulinge joined Safaricom in 2006 from Unilever where she served as Sunlight brand manager.
At Safaricom, she rose to the position of director, consumer business in March 2015.
Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore while announcing Ms Mulinge’s appointment to head Vodacom in April said that Charles Wanjohi would take her position on interim basis.