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Cathy Smith to leave role as SAP Africa MD

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 16 Jan 2023
Outgoing SAP Africa MD Cathy Smith.
Outgoing SAP Africa MD Cathy Smith.

Cathy Smith will be leaving her role as MD of SAP Africa when her contract comes to an end in the next few months, ITWeb has learnt.

In a statement sent to ITWeb, the German software giant says Smith will remain within the company and will be transitioned into a new role, as the company undergoes “internal organisation changes”.

Smith joined SAP in 2018 after three years of service as Cisco’s MD for Sub-Saharan Africa, where she led the development and execution of the company's go-to-market sales and digital transformation strategies for the region.

Prior to that, she spent 23 years at IBM in a variety of leadership roles.

“Internal organisation changes are commonplace within corporates, and anything that is of external relevance is always communicated when appropriate. Cathy Smith will transition from her current role within this year in a structured and responsible way that ensures good governance and continuity for all stakeholders,” says SAP.

“She joined SAP in 2018 with a five-year plan to rebuild the team, support our valued customers, and grow SAP’s cloud business on the continent. She has delivered beyond expectations on this plan and she looks forward to another chapter of success with SAP.”

According to the firm, Smith has been influential in creating a culture of diversity, equality, and inclusiveness across SAP Africa’s business.

The company’s diversity and inclusion data shows that 27% of SAP leadership are women, and women comprise 34% of its workforce globally.

She is a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative, an organisation set up to develop the next generation of value-based African leaders who are capable of guiding and leading their countries as they struggle to align the demands of globalisation with local visions of a good society.

In October, Smith made the list of’s 50 women CEOs leading corporate Africa.

Troubled waters

Smith joined SAP some months after the company announced an executive shake-up and appointed an interim management team for Africa, after four management team members were placed on administrative leave.

This, after reports surfaced that the German-based software giant allegedly paid "kickbacks" for it to access lucrative government contracts.

SAP has since come clean on the allegations, saying it found compliance breaches and "indications of misconduct" in $50 million (R595 million) of public sector deals in SA involving the Guptas, friends of former president Jacob Zuma accused of corruption.

In November, it emerged the software company was facing a fresh claim of R1 billion from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) over fees paid by power utility Eskom on state capture deals.

The SIU has filed claim papers with the Special Tribunal, which is mandated to recover public funds syphoned from the fiscus through corruption, fraud and illicit money flows.

This after SAP agreed to pay R345 million as settlement over an invalidated contract with the Department of Water and Sanitation.

In September, the Special Tribunal announced a full and final settlement on the tainted contract had been reached.

According to the SIU, the invalidated water affairs contract didn’t comply with the provisions of Section 217 of the Constitution, PFMA, treasury regulations, or the department's supply chain management policies.

Now, with the Eskom contract, SAP faces a R1 billion demand from the SIU after it admitted it paid monies to intermediary companies controlled by the Guptas.