Telecel to meet govt over licence

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INFORMATION Communication Technology and Courier Services minister Supa Mandiwanzira yesterday revealed that officials from Telecel International had booked an appointment with him today to iron out their differences over the local entity’s non-compliance with the country’s indigenisation laws and licences fees.

BY Veneranda Langa/NDAMU SANDU

Mandiwanzira announced the development when he appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information Communication Technology to give oral evidence on the fate of Telecel Zimbabwe following cancellation of its mobile phone operating licence last week.

He said the telecommunications company had failed to comply with the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) requirements despite constant warnings and reminders over the past 15 years.

Telecel has more than 1 000 employees, $3 million circulating in Telecash and two million subscribers.

“In the negotiations between Telecel, government and Potraz, Telecel appealed on an extended period to pay the $137,5 million renewal fees, and they further made a commitment to pay $14 million upon signing the agreement and pay the balance over a period of seven years. Despite the leniency shown by goverment on the payment terms, Telecel failed to pay the $14 million as agreed,” Mandiwanzira said.

“On the date of signing the agreement, Telecel only paid $8 million and it took them 19 months to pay the outstanding $6 million.”

“Telecel International is owned 100% by Global Telecommunications which owns Vimpelcom based in Netherlands with 56% of its shareholding held by a Russian billionaire and they make $20 billion per year and have 30 million subscribers in Bangladesh. This is a big company which never failed to pay licences in other countries, but have defaulted in Zimbabwe.”

He said Telecel still had a chance to appeal through the courts and the minister, but they had not done anything to that effect yet.

Meanwhile, Telecel Zimbabwe empoyees have petitioned the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment to accept the employee share ownership plan (ESOP) submitted by their employer to enable the government to restore the firm’s operating licence.

“It has come to our attention that the Employee Share Ownership Plan proposed by Telecel Zimbabwe shareholders as a way to transfer shareholding to employees to comply with the indigenisation threshold has been rejected by the regulator hence the company’s licence has been withdrawn on that basis,” the workers said in a petition signed by workers’ committee chairperson David Mhambare.

The workers said Telecel Zimbabwe shareholders had proposed to give employees an 11% stake in the company, a plan they said did not satisfy Potraz.

“It is imperative and expected that if there are any grey areas in establishment of the ESOP, some can be addressed by all stakeholders, principally your esteemed office, in order to address our concerns such that the ESOP meets the dictates of the law and government policy on empowerment,” the workers said.

“We take great exception of the move taken by Potraz and categorically register our displeasure in the failure of the decision taken to address the plight of Zimbabwean employees who have now been rendered jobless immediately.”

The petition was copied to Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda, Minister Mandiwanzira, Speaker of the House of Assembly Jacob Mudenda, Senate President Edna Madzongwe and the Potraz board. It was also copied to the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communication, Technology, Postal and Courier Services Nelson Chamisa and the secretary-generals of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Just a few questions ,to those in the know …
    1.why is potraz rejecting the employee share scheme is it a) because supa Mandiwanzira wont be able to lay a hand on those shares as well or b) the Mugabe family wont have a stake since it is their intention of building an empire in Zim?
    2. Is Telecel the only company in Zim which has not complied with the 51/49 thing and given that a 40 % stake is in the hands of Zimbos already does it really make sense to destroy the organisation and disenfranchise those with the 40%?
    3.Where did Supa do his business studies?Cant understand his expectations on the unpaid licence fee..realy Supa Telecel International should foot bills for Telecel Zim?
    4.Is it a coincidence that the cancelation of the licence comes fast on the heels after Brainworks aka Patrick Zhuwao Mugabe failed in his bid to lay hands on the Telecel shares.
    5. Do the people concerned know the ramifications of having 1000 redundant workers, on the workers themselves and dependents ?

  2. something fishy here, how could the company operate 15 years without paying licence fees? I doubt any other company would have been able to pull off such a feat. Gvt has ignored the fact all along and decides to act now. It means the company was illegal all the time.

    • @Ndashamisika ,what is lost upon you is the significance of the license fee ,which is to put it in other terms a token to commence business.Its a token and hence its payment can be negotiated overtime , more important is to understand that the Telecoms sector is a resource demanding investment you sink in a lot( capital,human as well as technological resources) to be able to compete,hence there is no urgency to pay a fee which does not add to the growth or the competetivness of the business. Think like a bank, a bank lends money and will expect to be paid back in installments,Why? BECAUSE THE VALUE OF THE MONEY IS NOT IN THE PRINCIPAL BUT IN THE LONGTERM SUCCESS OF THE INVESTMENT .Telecel will be able to meet its obligations in the future when they have built enough capacity to be profitable,that iis what business is all about.

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