Tata-led Neotel denies problems between Indian, South African staff

June 9th, 2009 - 3:24 pm ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, June 9 (IANS) The Tata-led Neotel consortium, which is developing South Africa’s telecommunications as the country’s second network operator, has rejected suggestions of “cultural clashes” between South African Indian staff and those brought from India by Tata Communications.

“The statement that ‘there are cultural clashes’ brewing at Neotel is not supported by facts, and neither is the referral to animosity between South African Indian employees of Neotel and those who have been seconded to the company by Tata Communications,” Wandile Zote, Neotel executive head for corporate communications and branding, said in a letter to the editor of the national daily Business Report.

“No such issues have been brought to our attention, which means that it is pure speculation,” he added.

Zote said that an earlier story in the daily alleging this had damaged the “good corporate reputation” of Neotel.

“Neotel is a young and vibrant company with a cosmopolitan mixture of employees from different backgrounds, including colleagues from India. We are proud of our association with majority shareholder Tata Communications because it brings a wealth of experience to our business.”

Zote wrote that he had challenged the reporter concerned to reveal her source when he replied to her questions by saying that Neotel did not respond to “rumours in the market”.

“What if the ‘faceless market’ is a disgruntled former employee or even worse, someone working for one of our competitors?”

The letter by Zote was carried prominently in Business Report on the letters page with the heading: “Inaccurate Neotel article threatens journalism ethics”.

Neotel is currently very much in the news in South Africa as it rolls out its telecom network, including the Seacom cable, which is expected to bring increased broadband connectivity between India and Africa within the next few weeks.

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