Africell Telecommunication Company Uganda got entangled in negative publicity just as it continues to rebrand from orange. Negative publicity started with a Uganda website the insider story. This was after Africell Uganda Telecommunication Company laid off 59 Ugandan workers and allegedly replaced them with Lebanese nationals.
This fueled racism discussions online. This was a rather bad time as it coincided with xenophobic attacks in South Africa. The Story alleged that those who were fired were not given satisfactory explanations raising concerns of poor employee relations.
This crisis went viral because it was in the court of public opinion which reacts with emotions not logic. The Ugandan website leaked an email communication between Africell Telecom Uganda and a renown Ugandan Communication specialist Simon Kaheru. Simon is on board to manage their organisational change communication needs.
People started attacking Simon Kaheru. Simon Kaheru should however be credited for his expert responses during the trying time. He was consistent with his message and his responses were not out of anger. He intellectually challenged those with racism evidence to come forward.
The leaked mail however projects Africell in a negative way and no one seems to comment on the incident. We are in the era of cyber threats. Are they weaknesses with Africell cyber security? Africell needs to reassure their clientele that their data and internet platforms are secure.
Africell needed to communicate what they have done on that security breach if it indeed happened. This scandal had much coverage online but Ugandan local newspapers did not give it any attention. This obviously points to the question of newsworthiness.
Africell has not bothered to explain itself extensively on the matter. Africell failed to give detailed responses to all allegations. It offered a general statement failed to use their facts to counter react to all the allegations on case by case. Africell could give a round figure of terminal benefits paid and when.
They released a statement on their Facebook page which was not dated or signed off by any Africell Uganda manager. Africell Uganda Telecommunication Facebook page describes the recent racist allegations as ridiculous and preposterous. The crisis has given rise to other bad speculative stories regarding the telecom operations.
There are rumours online about Africell Uganda considering closure or buy out. Africell Uganda has since responded and said it is still in Uganda. Some people continue to push for boycott of products from Africell because of the crisis.
The Crisis common hashtag was #ExposeAfricell.AFricell Uganda Telecom has an ongoing campaign where they subscribers have free calls every night with no limitations. The PR team at the telecom could rely on this to build goodwill.
A disgruntled former employee is more dangerously than competition. They can disrupt business operations .Organisation must learn to manage staff exits better so as to reduce on the possibility of them becoming disgruntled. This can cause disruptions in business.
It is common to have resistance to change but Africell change might have been poorly presented. Restructuring is understandable given their struggling financial situation. With any change comes panic. Staffs who have achieved status see any new plan as a threat. The incident still shows the weak Uganda civil society. Opposition and labour unions did not pick interest in the matter.