I think that many people in SA would agree that our telecoms situation leaves much to be desired, but I doubt that many of us know exactly how we ended up here. Some interesting information has surfaced about how SBC and Telekom Malaysia had an impact.

Under SBC's control Telkom not only failed to meet its roll-out obligations but behaved "as a tax on industry and a drag on economic growth".

SBC had, with a 15.5 percent stake, been a managing shareholder in MTN in the mid-nineties, said Myers, and had a "good understanding of South African politics" when the government put the Telkom stake up for sale.

In an interview with the authors last year, Myers explained that when it became clear that SBC would secure the Telkom stake, "the company temporarily transferred its entire San Antonio [Texas] corporate office legislative team to South Africa to help draft the Telecommunications Act, to make sure the legislation comported with the company's requirements".

Myers told Horwitz and Currie that SBC's strategy was very clear: "Maximise the value of Thintana's investment during Telkom's five-year exclusivity period and then exit quickly."

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