Following the shutdown of the telecom firm Vivacell, Ateny Wek Ateny – the Press Secretary in the Office of the President- is said to have ‘hijacked for some minutes’ a talk show of the UN-sponsored Radio Miraya to read and repeat a long list of new MTN mobile telephones numbers (private and official) of himself, senior government officials, institutions and some JCE members.
According to some listeners of the popular prime-time talk-show, the disparate press secretary was heard pleading to all that his “…Vivacell number ending is ..1302 is no longer in use, please reach me at the following MTN numbers 09…”
A few days ago, authorities in South Sudan shut down mobile operator Vivacell’s service saying the firm failed to pay taxes and failed to comply with government regulations. Thousands of Vivacell subscribers found themselves unable to reach or be reached.
According to one producer at the radio station, Mr. Wek got on air under the pretense that he was ready to discuss the circumstance surrounding the shutdown of Vivacell. The talk-show host later said staff at the station felt like a hostages for the long 17 minutes fearing for their lives as the press-secretary turned air-wave hijacker Mr. Wek painfully read out the names and new mobile phone numbers from his multi-page list.
Ateny Wek’s opportunism received mixed reactions from many listeners – some praising him for his pragmatism and role is ensuring the government remains reachable, others decrying the slow response of UNMISS’ security hostage rescue unit that allowed Ateny Wek hijack and control of the UN-sponsored radio station to last for 17 whole minutes.
According to our communications expert Dr Kak Akwa, Ateny’s move is surprising smart, quick and pro-active and unlike anything many officials in government are presumed likely to do.
“Actually, Ateny Wek Ateny was showing something he’s not shown before – initiative! With Vivacell down, there is no other way to reach out other than sit under a Neem tree and wait for your family to come…. Ateny’s intentional hijacking of the airwaves was infinitely quicker and effective… it means the government is back in business and functioning the same day, a communications coup!”
After reading his long list of names and numbers, Ateny Wek said he did not have details of the reasons behind the shutdown as issues rests with the NCA and the Ministry of Information.