TELECEL Zimbabwe, the country’s smallest mobile telecommunication operator, is scrambling to regularise its operating licence, under threat due to non payment of fees, the Financial Gazette has learnt.Telecel head officeSources this week told this paper that executives from Telecel Globe, who hold a 60 percent stake in the company, were in the country last week for high level talks with government.

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The meeting came against the background of an impending deadline on Monday for Telecel Zimbabwe to raise US$137,5 million required for an operating licence.

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Some sources suggested Telecel Globe executives flew into the country to negotiate terms, as well as extension of the April 6, 2015 deadline for compliance.

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It was, however, not clear by the time of going to press if the extension had been granted.

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Minister of Information Communications Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Supa Mandiwanzira, declined to confirm his meeting with Telecel Globe executives when contacted for comment, only saying: “All I can tell you for now is that Telecel Zimbabwe is making frantic efforts to address their deficiencies.”

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Telecel Zimbabwe is ravaged by shareholder disputes between members of its 40 percent shareholder, Empowerment Corporation.

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The dispute has reportedly unsettled Telecel Globe, which has been unwilling to splurge money on the business to pay for the licence. In fact, reports indicate that Telecel Globe is looking for an exit from the Zimbabwean mobile telecommunications firm, which lost the second spot in terms of subscriber numbers to NetOne last year.

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Telecel Globe is a subsidiary of Global Telecom.

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The shareholding structure under which Telecel Globe owns 60 percent shareholding contravenes the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, which requires foreign-owned firms to cede majority shareholding to locals, as well as terms of the licence as stipulated by Section 36 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act, which also requires local majority shareholding in telecommunications companies.

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Cabinet has already set up a committee, chaired by Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister, Christopher Mushohwe, to begin the processes to shut down the mobile operator.

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Telecel communications director, Obert Mandimika, could not be reached for comment.