The hurried appointment of Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa has come back to haunt the board.
Insiders say that enraged and bitter Vodafone stakeholders who missed out on the appointment are out to paint a dark picture of Ndegwa, using current board members to blackball him into submission or cause a munity ripple in the orgnaisation.
In the run up to the appointment of the CEO from Diageo, multiple sources were determined to have a Kenyan occupy the position, one of the rare gems of East Africa Corporate world.
The persona, the perks and pay package of the job mean that the occupant is at level par with a cabinet secretary in the country and commands respect that means he/she is at the President beck and call.
So much cherished is a senior position at Safaricom that the chairman Nicholas Nganga, a corporate titian in four successive post-independence Kenya commands more respect than any other in his rank. It is a ring-fenced position for the Kikuyu elite.
East Africa’s most profitable business entity could hurt in image after senior management rejected its new boss.
Similarly, the choice of Ndegwa, a former Starehe Boys student for the job was seen as an extension of the Kikuyu dominance in corporate Kenya, something that calls for speculation in the country.
But, the stories emerging from Safaricom in the last two weeks indicate that the protest among senior managers who thought they were supposed to rise on the greasy pole is a confirmation of the bitter wars that were witnessed from the headhunting to the subsequent appointment of the Kenyan.
In other circles, news has it that the diminutive Ndegwa possesses a British passport, something that vindicates those who were against his appointment.
“He struggled to face a crowd of people that did not appreciate him on his first day in office. He came through as a stranger, someone who was swimming in choppy waters. You could see it in the body language,” says someone within the organization.
On the way to the lucrative appointment, Ndegwa bypassed Sylvia Mulinge, the hitherto second in command for many years under the late Bob Collymore until an attempt to send her away was stopped by the Tanzanian government. Sylvia was involved in an ugly accident that left a victim dead along the Southern Bypass. The case, however ended with a judgment.
In Tanzania though, the country’s nationalization process that has seen the government block ‘aliens’ from occupying senior positions came into play.
Others who missed out of the job are Joseph Ogutu, who was sent away to a lackluster head of a non-profit offshoot. Sateesh Kamath and egocentric Steve Okeyo.
Okeyo had a brush with the senior management who engineered his immediate exit, but, he remains a bitter man, following the circumstances that saw him leave in an acrimonious way.
“Okeyo had his sights set on bigger things in life. At one point, they were dealaying him from being what he was supposed to be. At the end of the day, the worst that happens in corporate world happened. A fraud case, theft in its real meaning meant that Okeyo left and remains a bitter person.
“Pity him though, but the last time, he was seen drinking his frustrations at a rhumba joint in Nairobi South B. Life has been unfair to the bright star. His start was shot down by the tribal affiliation. Such is life and it goes on,” our sources tell us about the story.
To him, the knowledge Bob Collymore’s health condition set into play major tribal and government politics that have not been seen in the country for a long while.
The powerplay involved senior government players who were hell bent to see a Kikuyu take over the top seat after the Briton succumbed to his death.
“It was all about who and not when. The type of madness that we have seen in the Anglican Church and other entities like KRA and Central Bank of Kenya. It was like the world was coming ton an end. They even managed to scare Vodafone. They are a nasty lot,” our source says.