Tsholofelo Molefe is the new CFO at Telkom. She officially starts in the role on 1 July, taking over from Telkom veteran executive Deon Fredericks, who moves into the newly created role of chief investment officer.
Tsholofelo is a former Eskom CFO, who was ousted from the state-owned entity in what is now widely understood to have been a purge to enable the infamous ‘state capture’ project. Last year, she testified at the parliamentary inquiry into the power utility and indicated that executives, herself included, were suspended after they resisted pressure to sign agreements with people and entities linked to the Gupta business empire.
Born and bred in Soweto, Molefe grew up as the daughter of an Anglican minister. “He was very strict and protective of his children,” recalls Molefe, but she also mentions him as the reason that she didn’t shy away from accepting the high-pressure position as Eskom CFO when it became available towards the end of last year. “It was about a challenge. My father raised us to have a very focused outlook on life. If you don’t try, you fail. Take life on. Take a chance, as long as it is not going to kill you.”
Excerpt from the 2014 CFO.co.za interview with Tsholofelo: Success comes through focus
After joining Telkom in 2016 as a deputy chief financial officer, Tsholofelo was appointed to the executive committee as chief risk and compliance officer in 2017 to strengthen internal controls across the group as the operating model evolved. “Controls have now been aligned with the new operating model and the group has progressed to a level of confidence to reincorporate this function into the chief financial officer role,” says Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko.
Deon has had a long career at Telkom, eventually being promoted from deputy CFO to CFO role in 2014. “Deon’s experience, intimate knowledge of the business and our resource allocation philosophy makes him an ideal candidate to drive our investment strategy following his positive contribution to the turnaround phase of the business,” says Maseko.
As chief investment officer, Deon stays responsible for M&A, as he was during the transformational BCX acquisition. "As people always say, you can’t go into too much detail but the devil is usually in the detail,” he said last year in a CFO.co.za interview.