THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services has summoned ICT minister Supa Mandiwanzira to appear before it over the Telecel saga.
BY OBEY MANAYITI / mthandazo nyoni
The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) on Wednesday cancelled Telecel’s operating licence for allegedly flouting regulations.
As the saga deepens, Parliament has invited the minister responsible to explain the matter which could affect 1 000 employees and more than two million subscribers.
“We have called the Minister of ICT to our committee, but we are yet to confirm the dates. It might be next week,” the committee’s chair Nelson Chamisa said.
“It’s our duty as a Parliamentary Committee to really understand what is happening. We play an oversight role on the government.”
Chamisa noted that considering that Telecel employs over 1 000 workers and that it has many subscribers on its network, such decisions to cancel operating licences should be weighed in that context so that there would not be much prejudice.
“Firing people is not easy when we should create jobs,” Chamisa said`, adding that it was the responsibility of his committee to dig deeper and ensure a semblance of sanity was restored.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) accused government of being double-faced in the Telecel saga.
“We have said that there are some pieces of legislation like the indigenisation law which might not be able to assist us as a country,” ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said.
“We are told that Telecel’s indigenisation proposal was not accepted. What it means is that there is a challenge with our laws. They are causing all these problems. Instead of government promoting investment, it is working against that. The government is being inconsistent here. It is inviting foreign investment and when investors come, they take away their businesses.”
Subscribers were given a 30-day period to migrate to other networks and Telecel was given 60 days to decommission its equipment.
Telecel has vowed to fight both on the local and international fronts to have its licence back.
Meanwhile, close to 50 Telecel Zimbabwe contract workers yesterday besieged the company’s Bulawayo offices demanding their dues, claiming they were owed three months’ salaries.
“We signed three months’ contracts with Telecel and they promised to give us $250 per month. However, since we signed contracts with them, we have been getting half salaries or even nothing at all,” one of the workers said.
But Telecel Zimbabwe spokesperson Francis Chimanda denied the claims.
“The correct position is that some contract workers whose contracts expire end of April have been discontinued in line with the conditions of their contracts. The employees in question are contract workers with three-month contracts and their wages are up to date. The monies owed are for April 2015 and the delay in paying them has to do with the employees being cleared by HR (human resources) first before they get their final pay and severance,” Chimanda said.