[imagesource: Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images]
Nobody wanted to disappoint former president Nelson Mandela.
Not even the CEOs of South Africa’s two most prominent mobile network operators back in the day, MTN and Vodacom.
When Mandela sent them into his private study to sort out their beef back, they did so with great haste.
MyBroadband reports that former Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig took a walk down memory lane in his book Second Is Nothing, in which he remembers the day he was invited by Mandela to join him for tea at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The invitation came at the time that Vodacom and MTN were battling it out, with MTN using “dirty tricks to beat Vodacom in a network quality contest”.
Vodacom had also taken MTN to court for defamation.
Meanwhile, Mandela had set up “tea” as a way for Knott-Craig to go face-to-face with MTN CEO Bob Chaphe, who he didn’t know was going to be at the meeting:
Mandela told Knott-Craig and Chaphe: “I believe there is a court case pending between MTN and Vodacom. I am sure that you both have good reasons for the court case, but I don’t want to know what they are. However, it doesn’t look good for the country to have our top mobile network operators at loggerheads.”
“There has to be another way. Why don’t you go into my private study and see if you can come up with a solution to all this? Come back and let me know what you decide.”
The two CEOs did not know how to resolve the matter in the absence of their lawyers, but they also did not want to disappoint Mandela.
Somehow, the two found an amicable solution, with Knott-Craig deciding to withdraw the court case, and Chaphe agreeing to issue an apology to Vodacom.
Mandela was said to have worn a broad smile when told the news, thanking both men for sorting out their issues.
If only solving some of today’s issues were as simple as setting up clandestine meetings between CEOs.
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