TELECEL Zimbabwe yesterday threatened a local and international onslaught against the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz)’s decision to cancel its licence.
BY STAFF REPORTER
Potraz said it had cancelled the Telecel licence, accusing the mobile telephone operator of flouting regulations.
Telecel was given 60 days to decommission its equipment and wind up operations, while subscribers were given 30 days to migrate to other networks.
“The Telecel Zimbabwe licence has been cancelled. The cancellation is with effect from 28 April 2015,” Potraz said in a statement distributed to journalists at the ongoing Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo yesterday.
“In order to facilitate the smooth switch of the Telecel Zimbabwe network as well as ensuring that disruption is minimised, Potraz concurrently issued a special licence to Telecel to continue providing telecommunications services for a period of 30 days,” the regulator added.
“During this period, it is expected that Telecel Zimbabwe subscribers will switch to alternative networks and those with credits on the Telecash mobile money platform would make good their position.”
Potraz said Telecel would be allowed to keep its equipment after it has been decommissioned.
“It should be underlined that the telecommunication equipment remains Telecel Zimbabwe’s property,” it said. “It is up to Telecel Zimbabwe to decide what to do with the equipment.”
However, Telecel said it objected to its treatment by Potraz and indicated that it was ready for a protracted legal battle to regain the licence.
Telecel insisted it had made “every effort to comply with all legal and governmental requirements in Zimbabwe, and objects to this treatment in the strongest terms”.
“Telecel and its global shareholders are taking immediate action both locally and internationally to challenge this decision,” the statement added.
“Telecel would like to assure its customers and stakeholders that it will take all possible steps to maintain the full range of its services throughout this process.”
Meanwhile, the Potraz decision has left the fate of 1 000 Telecel Zimbabwe employees and over two million subscribers uncertain.
Two months ago, government cancelled an agreement it had with Telecel Zimbabwe, which allowed the firm to operate without paying the requisite $137,5 million operating licence fee.
Telecel Zimbabwe is the country’s third largest mobile phone operator after the State-owned NetOne and Econet, owned by South Africa-based Zimbabwean entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa.
The company is 60%-owned by Amsterdam-based VimpelCom Ltd, while a consortium of local businesspeople, who include exiled James Makamba, have a 40% stake.