THE case of the country’s largest mobile phone operators, Econet Wireless and NetOne, embroiled in a tug-of-war over an unsettled $19 million debt by the latter, is expected to be dealt with by the High Court on Friday next week.
Report by Charles Laiton Senior Court Reporter
On more than two occasions this year, Econet switched off NetOne in a bid to force the mobile service operator to settle its debt, but the State-owned firm argued that its competitor also owed it $19 000.
The matter was supposed to be heard yesterday in High Court judge, Justice Ben Hlatshwayo’s chambers, but was postponed as a result of the court’s commitments to other matters.
During the last hearing of the reconnection saga, both mobile phone operators represented by their respective legal practitioners Advocate Firoz Girach and Advocate Ray Goba agreed to the hearing date being fixed by the court, hence yesterday’s date.
In August this year, Econet bowed down to pressure from NetOne and reconnected the latter pending judgment by the High Court over the debt dispute.
It was also agreed that with effect from the beginning of last month, both parties would carry out business in terms of the 2004 interconnection agreement, subject to tariffs set by the regulator as at that time.
Among the issues raised and agreed upon in the last draft consent order was the immediate reconnection of NetOne, which had been switched off yet again, a move which was criticised by the court. Justice Hlatshwayo queried Econet’s decision of disconnecting NetOne without giving notice to its customers.
He said simply disconnecting the public would not make sense as they would need notice of the impending disconnection to enable them to make alternative arrangements.