ZIMBABWE’S telecoms regulator has ordered mobile phone operators to immediately switch off all unregistered lines amid concerns that subscribers are engaging in criminal activities using the lines.
In a statement released on Friday, the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) threatened mobile phone users with a fine or imprisonment for using unregistered lines.
This comes at a time when micro-blogger Baba Jukwa has been releasing unverified damning reports on Zanu PF officials as well as security chiefs, urging followers to call and confront them.
“The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), together with the Zimbabwe Republic Police, and the three mobile operators, Econet Wireless, Telecel Zimbabwe and NetOne have noted with grave concern an upsurge in the number of offensive and abusive calls and generated from unregistered sim cards across all networks made and/ or sent to citizens of Zimbabwe and members of the public,” the statement read.
“Accordingly, members of the public are warned against buying or selling activated lines as, in the event that the line is abused, it is the registered subscriber who will be held accountable and answerable for any offences committed using the line. Mobile operators have been directed to disconnect all unregistered subscribers with immediate effect.”
Meanwhile, the standoff between Zimbabwe largest mobile phone operator Econet and rival Telecel has continued as Potraz continues with investigations.
Econet last month switched off interconnectivity with Telecel, accusing the latter of operating without a licence.
This follows a complaint by Telecel to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority that its subscribers were not able to connect to Econet users.
Telecel alleges that the problem started last month after it launched a 50% tariff reduction promotion across all networks.
Early last month, representatives from Orascom, Telecel’s parent company, were in the country to negotiate renewal of the company’s operating licence.
Authorities say Telecel, a unit of Orascom, should comply with the country’s indigenisation and empowerment laws before being licenced.
Telecel Zimbabwe was announced as the winner of a tender to operate a mobile telecommunications service in 1996.
The award of the licence to Telecel Zimbabwe was declared to be invalid by a High Court judgment handed down on December 31, 1997.