Govt, Telecel mum on meeting outcome

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The government and Telecel Zimbabwe shareholders Vimpelcom met on Tuesday to discuss the cancellation of the operating licence of the telecommunications company.
Both parties were, however, yesterday mum on the outcome of the negotiations amid reports that several other investors, among them Unitel of Angola and MTN, were interested in investing in the telecommunications company.

BY VICTORIA MTOMBA

Vimpelcom holds a 60% interest in Telecel and local Empowerment Corporation holds 40% stake in the company.

Information and Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services minister Supa Mandiwanzira yesterday declined to comment on the discussion he had with Vimpelcom officials.

But on Tuesday, Mandiwanzira posted on his Twitter account saying: “Just finished a very positive meeting with Vimplelcom. It would appear the future of TZ (Telecel Zimbabwe) is orange, it’s bright.”

The tweet has been viewed as meaning that the government and Vimplecom had reached an agreement or were working on something.

Telecel Zimbabwe managing director Angeline Vere declined to comment saying she was not part of the meeting on Tuesday.

On Monday, Mandiwanzira appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information and Communication chaired by Kuwadzana MP Nelson Chamisa.
He told the committee that there were many potential investors both local and foreign who were interested in Telecel.

“I have received more than five offers from investors in South Africa, Zimbabwe and the United States. They have said they have money and can pay the licence fees tomorrow, and I have said if they want to buy Telecel, they should discuss with the shareholder,” he said.

Mandiwanzira said the government was engaged in negotiations with several interested investors, including MTN and Unitel (Angola).

He said Telecel International had offered the government its 60% stake, while James Makamba and Jane Mutasa, the indigenous shareholders owning the other 40% stake, had also written, proposing that the government buys their shares.

Mandiwanzira said he had documented evidence to handover to the committee to show communications between the government, Potraz and Telecel over different issues.

The country’s third-largest telecommunications company’s licence was cancelled last week and it was given a 30-day ultimatum to switch off its system.The company allegedly failed to pay its licence fees to the regulator Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe. Telecel Zimbabwe paid $14 million over a longer period than was agreed on.

But the company on Tuesday said it was up to date in paying for its licence.