State unbending on Vodacom deal

Zukile Majova and Sapa

Zukile Majova and Sapa

Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda says the government cannot cop out of its earlier agreement to support the listing of Vodacom on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange.

"We are legally bound by our earlier agreement to support the transaction and that is why we are opposing the application by Cosatu," said Nyanda, pictured.

Last night the North Gauteng high court heard an urgent application by Cosatu and the Independent Communications Authority which sought to block Vodacom's plan to list on the JSE today.

Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi says the deal would weaken Telkom and result in job losses.

The R22,5billion transaction allows UK-based communications giant Vodafone to buy 15percent of Telkom's 50 percent stake in Vodacom.

The remaining 35 percent would be distributed to Telkom shareholders in proportion to their existing shareholding.

"In Cosatu's view, the sale by Telkom would not only result in the sale of 15percent of its shares to Vodafone Plc, but would also result in Telkom's remaining 35percent also changing hands.

"There is public interest in the Vodafone/Telkom share transaction in that Telkom's 50percent interest in Vodacom constitutes, in Cosatu's view, a public asset and that the South African government would no longer have an interest in the country's largest mobile operator," said Vavi.