According to a report via financialgazette.co.zw, the Zimbabwean government is set to buy the entire shareholding of Telecel Zimbabwe as it moves to increase its influence in the telecommunications sector.
ICT, Postal and Courier Services minister Supa Mandiwanzira told state broadcaster ZBC that Telecel’s two shareholders, VimpleCom and Empowerment Corporation, have offered to sell their interest in the business to government. VimpleCom and EC have 60 percent and 40 percent equity respectively. The acquisition of Telecel is seen as a step towards maintaining significant presence on the capital-intensive and highly lucrative mobile sector, a report via Telecompaper revealed.
The report further reveals that the move comes at a time when Telecel won a court reprieve in May against the cancellation of its operating licence by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz). Potraz had given Telecel 30 days to wind up its operations after reportedly failing to pay for the licence fees. But the mobile operator contends that it had never defaulted in paying instalments on the licence fees under the seven-year payment period. Officials in the ICT ministry indicated that it was improper for Telecel to have softer terms when other operators such as NetOne and Econet were told to pay in full.
The report further reveals that it is understood that government ISP, Zarnet, is at the forefront in the acquisition process. Mandiwanzira refused to shed more light on the matter referring all questions to Zarnet. Industry sources say the move by government was seen as a possible way out to save jobs and restore order at the operator where internal squabbles within EC, the local empowerment consortium, have not helped matters.