Telkom CEO to cut third of workforce

13 January 2014 |


The CEO of South Africa’s Telkom, Sipho Maseko, plans to slash as many as 1,000 managerial roles at the company and reduce his 21,000-strong workforce by almost a third over the next five years.

Maseko is Telkom’s sixth CEO since 2005, and the cuts are designed to turn the company around and revive revenues.

The news follows Maseko’s hiring of US-based management consultants Bain & Co, and has come up against resistance from Telkom staff.

In an interview, Maseko said: “I have cancelled all the bottled water, people are not happy; I cancelled Christmas lunches, people are not happy; they’ll be saying that some of the proposals around cost cuts are too aggressive.”

Solidarity labour union spokesmen Marius Croucamp said that the human impact of the job cuts will be extensive.

“If one takes 30% and calculates the families involved, then you get close to 35,000 people who will lose direct financial support,” Croucamp said.

Telkom – which is 40%-owned by the South African government and 11%-owned by the country’s Public Investment Corporation – has been struggling to maintain a consistent revenue stream, following the proliferation of smartphone technology at the expense of fixed-line communication.

Maseko described the cost of running a mobile business as “a drain”. “If I can get it down by at least 50%, that would be fantastic,” he said.

Telkom is looking to improve its high-speed broadband offering in the country and Maseko has been in talks with companies such as Comcast, Naspers and Netflix regarding increased content delivery in the region.

“I’m accountable for the strategy, I’m accountable for the development of the strategy,” Maseko said. “If the strategy fails, I’m the one who’s going to get shot. It’s me.”