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Gugu Lourie’s column on Vodacom’s transformation journey was factually incorrect (“Balesh Sharma exit opens Vodacom doors to transformation”, April 27). Vodacom is one of the most transformed companies on the JSE, with 76% of its workforce being black.

In SA, black representation at senior levels is at 62% for the 2021 financial year and 67% at executive committee level. At a Vodacom Group level, 75% of its exco are black. Additionally, 44% of our workforce are women, and the SA exco is now 50% female. Equal remuneration practices at all occupational levels are guaranteed.

Senior executive committee roles are now held by a number of black individuals, including Raisibe Morathi, group CFO, a group board director and one of the JSE’s most experienced CFOs; Mariam Cassim, chief officer of financial services; Matimba Mbungela, group chief human resources officer; Nkateko Nyoka, chief officer of legal and compliance; Stephen Chege, chief external affairs officer; Refilwe Nkabinde, CFO of Vodacom SA; Beverly Ngwenya, chief technology officer of Vodacom SA; Taki Netshitenzhe, external affairs director for Vodacom SA; Njabulo Mashigo, human resources director for Vodacom SA; William Mzimba, chief officer for Vodacom Business; and Errol van Graan, chief officer for customer operations.

Importantly, as evidence of our commitment to transformation, in June 2018 we introduced the largest black economic empowerment (BEE) transaction in the telecommunications industry to date, at R16.4bn. The transaction resulted in YeboYethu (RF) becoming the third largest shareholder in Vodacom Group. YeboYethu shareholders comprise RBH, Mineworkers Investment Company, Vodacom Siyanda Employee Trust and more than 85,000 ordinary black South Africans.

From 2019 we achieved a level 1 BEE rating on an annual basis by accelerating a concerted and focused transformation strategy, based on the principles of meaningful sustainability. This we did by approaching the challenge comprehensively and holistically.

To take just one example, procurement, Vodacom spent R38bn on BEE-status companies with level 4 and above, broken down as follows: we spent R14.9bn with greater than 51% black-owned suppliers while R18bn was spent procuring services from greater than 30% black woman-owned suppliers. We also procured R6.4bn in services from black-owned qualifying small enterprises and exempt micro enterprises. Notwithstanding Covid-19 in the year, more than R1.1bn was paid to qualifying black-owned SMMEs (in terms of the ICT sector code) within five days of invoice.

Vodacom has made enormous progress in its transformation journey, and will continue to do more.

Byron Kennedy
Vodacom head of external communications

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