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* According to Mmegi Online, if Communications, Science and Technology minister, Boyce Sebetela had his way, the long awaited privatisation process would have been long set in motion. Sebetela is clearly getting impatient with the pace of the privatisation process and has made no secret about it. The outspoken Minister and MP for Palapye said in parliament last week when contributing to the 2003/2004 budget speech that parastatals are only milking government dry. His take is that the much-needed resources that have often been directed to the parastatals could be diverted to other areas such as health and education.

"They are failing the republic and they (parastatls) are just in the black," he said stressing that of all the parastatals only the National Development Bank reported a return on investment of over 10 per cent. And this is the more reason that we must privatise them in order to reduce government contingent liability...the record clearly points to the fact that we must move with speed so that the hundreds of Pulas can be ploughed back into the hospitals and other sectors," he said.

He charged that this is what is happening with the troubled Botswana Telecommunications (BTC) which is under his docket. He revealed BTC now need P900 million to revamp its network. He asserted that the parastatal should be privatised next after Air Botswana, which is ear-marked to start the divestiture process.The Minister informed parliament that BTC is making progress in its restructuring exercise adding that the appointments of senior management is expected to be completed by the end of March so that ‘BTC could return to profitability.’

* WorldSpace, has denied that it intended to move out of the country as claimed by a former chief executive who was sacked last month. The managing director of Afristar Satellite Business, an associate company based in South Africa, Ms Anitha Soni, claims the company sacked Mr Isaiah Okoth for failing to follow lawful company instructions and legal procedure when he signed a contract for the delivery of 5,400 receivers. She made the claim in a 53-page affidavit filed at the Commercial Courts. Mr Okoth has gone to court over his dismissal.

Last week Kenyan High Court Judge John Mwera lifted an order freezing the account of AfriSpace Kenya Ltd at Commercial Bank of Africa and directed all parties involved in the case to appear for hearing on March 6. WorldSpace lawyer Adil Khawanja had submitted that the orders freezing the account had made it impossible for the company to operate, hence the need to set them aside. Mr Okoth has named Afrispace Kenya, Rangwe MP Philip Okundi and Ms Soni as defendants. His lawyer, Mr E.N. Monari, claims that his sacking on January 17 was illegal and is claiming close to Sh56 million in terminal dues and shares in the company.

* According to the Vanguard in spite of the huge indebtedness of NITEL to it, MTN Nigeria has no intention of disconnecting the first national carrier from its network. That was the submission of the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Adrian Wood to the interconnect dispute that is currently brewing between GSM operators and NITEL. On the contrary, the MTN CEO says that his company has offered to render some support to NITEL to assist it solve the technical problems which have been militating against seamless interconnect with GSM operators.

* The Chairman of SA’s Telkom, Ms Nomazizi Mtshotshisa, has announced the resignations of Ms Wendy Luhabe, Dr Diliza Mji and Mr Colin Smith as non- executive members of the Telkom board of directors effective 1 February 2003. Ms Luhabe is an entrepreneur who is also a director and the chairperson of Vodacom. Dr Mji is a consultant general and pediatric surgeon in private practice at the University of Natal.

lishan@citad.org