Malawians criticize TNM over white CEO: Do we not have black people?


Some Malawians have criticized TNM for appointing a white person from Canada as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). People who are questioning the decision have asked the Malawi telecommunications company why it did not intensify its effort to identify a black person across the country.

The mobile telecommunications firm which is a Malawian owned company announced yesterday the appointment of Canadian telecoms engineer Michel Hebert as its new chief executive officer.

He replaces Arnold Mbwana who left the company last year after working as CEO since March 2021.

Starting from October 2022, TNM was being led by Engineer Lloyd Gowera as Acting Chief Executive Officer.

Hebert, the new CEO, has a combined 25 years senior level experience in telecommunications and technology having worked as a senior consultant and telecoms strategist in US, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Sudan and South Korea.

According to a statement by TNM chairperson Ted Sauti Phiri, Herbet has also transformed organisations, delivered growth and opened new markets for well-known telecom companies such as Orange (Egypt), Ooredoo (Tunisia), Djezzy (Algeria), Comium (Cote D’Ivoire), Digicel (Papua New Guinea),” he said.

“Most recently, Michel has built, transformed and improved technology-led businesses at Sudatel Group (Sudan) in 4G LTE Advanced, Data Centres, Mobile Financial Services and fibre optics deployments, gaining new market share, and doubling revenues and profits,” said Sauti Phiri.

Herbert is an electrical engineer who earned his bachelor of science from Canada’s University of Waterloo and MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business in the United States.

On social media, Malawians have criticized the Malawian company for appointing an expatriate and sidelining Malawians with expertise in the telecommunication sector.

“Kod ku Malawi kuno tilibe ma engineers oti (Don’t we have engineers in Malawi who) can hold that position?” asked one person on Facebook.

“This is very unpatriotic from TNM….we have very good Electrical Engineers of Malawian origin and trained in Malawi. It’s time we changed this mindset of undermining our own experts. This is retrogressive development,” another person said.

However, others claimed that TNM has been making losses and that is why its board has decided to appoint an expatriate with experience in the telecommunication sector.

“For those who follow TNM since the appointment of local CEOs, the company has been making losses which points to the lack of management expertise and abuse of managerial powers. I recommend the board for the appointment of an expatriate whom I believe will turn around things at TNM and start making profits as was the case in the past,” said a commenter on Facebook.

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