Bob Collymore said to be on medical leave amid speculations that his exit is meant to counter NASA’s product boycott calls

Safaricom Plc has today announced that its CEO Bob Collymore, has started medical leave to receive specialized treatment for a number of months. The announcement comes even as speculations begin to swirl over the real reason behind Collymore’s (temporary) exit.

Some sources in the company say that Collymore had become a liability to the company due to comments he made during the disputed August Presidential elections that bordered on insulting opposition leader Raila Odinga. This our sources say have become uncomfortable to the company’s board with fears that Raila Odinga who commands a huge following will this week call for a boycott of Safaricom products.

During this time, Sateesh Kamath, the current Chief Financial Officer for Safaricom who is also Mr. Collymore’s alternate on the Board, will take a primary role.

He will be supported by Joseph Ogutu who is the current Director – Strategy and Innovation, Safaricom. Mr. Ogutu will be responsible for Safaricom’s day-to-day operations until Mr. Collymore’s return from medical leave.

 

“On behalf of the board, management and the entire Safaricom community, I wish Bob quick recovery and look forward to him resuming his duties as soon as doctors allow him to do so,” said Nicholas Ng’ang’a, Chairman, Safaricom Plc.

 

The move to bring Mr. Ogutu to be the telco’s second in command is widely seen as an attempt to soothe Mr. Odinga’s support base by having someone his supporters may call “one of their own” at the helm of the company.

It is still not clear how much a call for product boycott by Mr. Odinga will affect the telco’s earnings.

With over 20 years experience in both mature and emerging markets, Mr. Kamath has a strong background in strategic performance management and building robust operations across the telecoms, FMCG and manufacturing sectors.

On his part, Mr. Ogutu is the longest serving Executive Committee member in Safaricom. He has a long and distinguished career in the telecommunications industry spanning over 30 years, with rich experience across several parts of the company including the Corporate Affairs and Human Resource functions. He is currently also serves as the Chairman of the Safaricom Foundation.

 

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