If this sounds like an April`s fools day, then you are not alone, we are still in the first quarter of the year and you can not be blamed for taking this headline with a pinch of salt.
The Sunday mail business was leading with the same old story that Telecel Zimbabwe`s licence has been cancelled, a move reached by the ministry of ICT postal and courier services as they mentioned a plethora of irregularities surrounding the matter.
By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito
Unfortunately, efforts to get comments from the minister of ICT Postal and courier services, Hon Supa Mandiwanzira were fruitless as his mobile was not reachable. Efforts to also get a comment from the permanent secretary in the ministry hit a brick wall as his mobile was also not reachable.
What will quickly raise more questions than answers is why will the parent ministry of ICT last week announce that they have cancelled the licence to the media even before they have told the involved parties, a statement which is rather to difficult to believe.
In the Sunday mail statement, it reads “ Information gathered by The Sunday Mail Business indicates that Government will this week call for a meeting with shareholders – Telecel International and the Empowerment Corporation – in order to advise them of the new position and also discuss the future of the business.”
The procedure of such an announcement speaks volumes against basic business ethics, but still we could not confirm how that could be possible.
At the core of the issue, Telecel Zimbabwe has been operating without fully paying up its licence, and has been facing some serious boardroom squabbles with their largest stakeholder, Mr James Makamba of Kestrel investments putting their total 40% under the Hammer
Interestingly, Mr Makamba was willing to sell the whole stake at a paltry $20 million,a move which honestly does not reflect the actual value of the company, prompting Jane Mtasa another stake holder with IBWO to contest the decision, with the courts ruling in her favour.
Their parent company, Vimplecon which owns 60% is already selling the stake, a move which the report sys the minister is not happy bout the speculative behavior,
However the real focus is on the termination of the licence and according to the report,
“Telecel has been operating without a licence since the expiry of their licence. They need to have paid US$137,5 million, which is the licence fee due to Government. They failed to pay, they asked for payment terms and they were granted payment terms through an agreement with the Ministry of ICTs, and they have even reneged on that agreement; therefore, the ministry, or Government, has cancelled that agreement.”
What we do not know is whether any deposit they have made so far towards the licence will also being considered as part payment and why no one these days ever talks about their payment which disappeared With Metropolitan Bank.
As a matter of fact, one wonders whether the other mobile network operators have also fully paid their licence fee, quickly reminding u of the matter when Potraz relicensing Telecel after the Econet disconnection
For record sake, it is known that neither Econet nor Netone have fully paid up the fees, The last we heard Econet used their termination fees to contribute towards the fees when they paid $85 million as part of their $137 million licence after the government demand towards sponsoring the last general election.
We are still checking our sources to trace if Netone has contributed any greater towards the fees too.
This would be a sorry state to see the third largest mobile operator going through considering that Telecoms sector in Zimbabwe alone is the largest tax payer and employer of the nation
Ironically, we get puzzled by the significance of the cancellation of the licence considering that they will not be stopping their operation, so what does the cancellation of the nonexistence licence really entails to?
We will have more answers after speaking to the authorities tomorrow otherwise for now all we have are just questions.