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Buhari to Travel to South Africa, to Meet over Zuma MTN Fine

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President Muhammadu Buhari and his South African counterpart, President Jacob Zuma [pictured together above], are to meet in Johannesburg this week to discuss MTN’s $5.2billion fine, South Africa-based Sunday Times has reported.

Both leaders are expected to meet and discuss the fine along the sidelines of the Forum of China-Africa Co-operation, the newspaper reported yesterday. The event takes place on December 4-5 at the Sandton Convention Centre.

The newspaper, however, reports that the South African government has been unwilling to confirm or deny its involvement in the MTN matter.

Clayson Monyela, spokesman for the Department of International Relations, told the Sunday Times that government was monitoring the development with keen interest. “The matter between MTN and Nigeria is between a private company and issues of compliance in a market they do business in,” Monyela told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the expected meeting between the two heads of state comes after the minister of communications, Adebayo Shittu, said last Wednesday that Buhari will decide MTN’s fate regarding the fine.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) fined MTN $5.2billion for failing to disconnect five million unregistered SIM cards in a timely manner. Nigeria’s SIM card registration process is designed to curb terror and criminal threats in the country.

The fine, which Denmark-based Strand Consult said is the biggest of its kind in history, has rattled the South African headquartered MTN whose share price shed about fifth of its value amid the penalty.

MTN’s group chief executive officer, Sifiso Dabengwa, subsequently quit while the company’s former CEO, Phuthuma Nhleko, was then appointed as executive chairperson and charged with the responsibility of tackling the fine.

Talks between MTN and the NCC regarding the fine are said to be ongoing with Nhleko having visited Nigeria. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) is also investigating MTN for how it announced its fine to shareholders.

[Source: South Africa-based Sunday Times]

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