MABVUKU South legislator Honourable James Maridadi has questioned the government’s move through the Ministry of ICT, and Cyber Security to acquire majority stake in Telecel. The ICT ministry used funds from the Universal Services Fund (USF) to finance $40 million in Telecel from Vimpelcom.
The government’s purchase of Telecel was the topic of discussion when ICT minister, Hon Supa Mandiwanzira appeared before the parliamentary committee on ICT, Postal Services and Cyber Security.Speaking to TechnoMag, Hon Maridadi said it does not make sense for the government struggling to competitively keep NetOne afloat, to go on to purchase another telecommunication company with the aim of cleaning it up and then selling it.
“NetOne, a government owned telco got its license before Econet but Econet overtaked both NetOne and Telecel and is now the biggest mobile network service provider. The government already owns a struggling telco and it went on to purchase another one, using people’s funds which doesn’t look good,” he said
He added that the USF fund must be domiciled and controlled by the Treasury which lawfully allocates money where it is most needed. Maridadi said it was unfair to leave these funds like USF under respective ministries, enabling ministers to decide at their own discretion to purchase struggling companies they cannot successfully run.
“Those funds must be domiciled under the ministry of finance. Every revenue that comes into government must go under the consolidated revenue funds, and if the minister wants to purchase anything, be it a company, he must apply to the ministry of Finance for approval,” said Maridadi.
He argued that because the ministry of finance has a bird’s eye view on the monetary requirements of the country, they are in a better position to make the most of the Funds the ministries are currently controlling.
The MP went on to say that, “As an MP, I’m saying that, government must not allow these funds to be controlled by ministries, they must be controlled by the treasury.”
The government purchased a stake of Telecel from Vimplecom, concluding the deal in July 2017 after about 2 years of negotiations. It is the government’s position not to keep Telecel as a parastatal but to sell it off, whether via the Zibabwe Stock Exchange as a public company or to a private investor, local or foreign.
Minister Mandiwanzira hailed the deal having been able to buy the 60% stake for only $40 million when the asking price from Vimpelcom was $110 million.