Telecel hopes for fair conclusion

TELECELTroubled mobile telecommunications firm, Telecel Zimbabwe said yesterday it expects Government to resolve its licence issue “in a fair and transparent manner”.

Zimbabwe’s telecommunications regulator, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe in early May cancelled Telecel’s licence over its failure to regularise its shareholding which is in violation of the country’s laws.

The firm is owned 60 percent by Russian telecoms giant, Vimplecom while locals own the remainder.

However, the Potraz Act as well as indigenisation laws demand that locals must own a minimum of 51 percent.

Following the cancellation, in which Telecel was given up to June to wind up its operations, the firm sought and was granted a High Court interdict suspending the Potraz decision pending finalisation of the licence negotiations with Government.

Potraz had also advised the firm’s over two million subscribers to look for alternative service providers.

Telecel’s public relations manager, Francis Chimhanda said the firm was in negotiations to address the issue.

“Telecel Zimbabwe would like to assure all its subscribers and various business partners that it continues to operate as normal,” Mr Chimhanda said in a statement.

“The process of legal engagement has been initiated and we have full confidence that the Government of Zimbabwe will resolve these open issues in the interest of the Zimbabwean people – in a fair and transparent manner.”

The Telecommunications Act allows a company to appeal to the Information Communication Technology and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira against cancellation of a licence and Telecel has taken up the option.

Although no immediate comment could be obtained from Minister Mandiwanzira, who was locked up in a cabinet meeting at the time of going to print, he has previously indicated he was yet to receive an appeal from the troubled firm.

The closure of Telecel would have meant that Zimbabwe remains with two mobile telecommunication services providers, Econet and state-owned Net One which have a combined subscriber base of around 11 million.

Telecel’s licence was previously cancelled by Potraz for the same reasons nearly eight years ago only to be reinstated after negotiations with the then Telecommunications Minister, Nicholas Goche.

The firm’s fate currently lies in the hands of the ICT Minister. – New Ziana.