Safaricom’s Mulinge comeback casts doubt on EAC integration bid

Friday September 28 2018

Sylvia Mulinge was Safaricom's Director of Consumer Business Unit before her appointment as Vodacom Tanzania managing director in June 1, 2018. She returns to Safaricom unresolved work permit issues. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya's giant telecom has hired back Sylvia Mulinge after more than five months of unresolved work permit issues that blocked her appointment as Vodacom Tanzania managing director.

Her return to Safaricom now casts doubt on the East African Community’s (EAC) integration polices.

Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore announced on Thursday the telco was rehiring Ms Mulinge as director for special projects, asking staff to welcome her “back home,” barely three weeks after Vodacom Tanzania filled her position on interim basis.

This curious case mirrors the frustrations of thousands of professionals across East Africa as a result of national interests that favour localisation of jobs, sacrificing the regional protocols that promise free movement of labour.

Ms Mulinge required a class B residence permit to work in Tanzania, according to information available on the Tanzania High Commission’s website.

“Residence permit Class B is issued to foreign expatriates with rare profession to obtain in the country to work for the companies in the country,” states the website concerning procedures for issuance of residence and work permits.


Her appointment at Safaricom leaves her Vodacom appointment in limbo given that effective September 1, Hisham Hendi replaced her in an acting capacity.

“In this role she will report directly to me, and will be responsible for spearheading our commercial revival and help us deliver our strategy and transform Safaricom into a business that is fit for the future,” said Mr Collymore.

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.

Her appointment to Vodacom Tanzania saw Charles Wanjohi take over her position on interim basis.

In her new role, she will be expected to help win back customer trust, according to Mr Collymore.

“In the immediate short term, Sylvia will be working with the commercial teams to restore customer trust and loyalty as we prepare for Safaricom’s coming of age as we celebrate our 18th anniversary which will be marked on October 23,” said the chief executive.