New twist to govt Telecel takeover

HARARE – The government’s recent acquisition of controlling shares in Telecel Zimbabwe has taken a new twist following revelations that the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) was forced to finance the takeover of VimpelCom’s 60 percent shares in the company.

Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzir

The government, through a wholly–owned, obscure entity named Zarnet, has just completed the acquisition of 60% of VimpelCom’s shareholding in Telecel Zimbabwe.

But The Zimbabwean has been reliably informed that the government directed NSSA to use pensioners’ contributions to guarantee financial support for Zarnet’s bid to take over the country’s third largest mobile telecommunications service provider.

According to a report on parastatals by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri for the financial year-ended December 31 2014, Zarnet is broke.

Confidential correspondence in The Zimbabwean’s possession, states that on September 23, 2015, minister of Information Supa Mandiwanzira wrote to Nssa board chairperson Robin Vela instructing NSSA to guarantee the financing of the deal – with no equity being offered to the company.

“Zarnet, through the Ministry, has commitment of funding from a third party approved by my principal. All I would appeal for is a commitment in writing from NSSA to finance the transaction simply so as to comply with VC’s diligence issues,” reads Mandiwanzira’s e-mail to Vela.

On the same day the Nssa board chairperson indicated in an e-mail to the minster that NSSA’s Investment and team committee as well as management fiercely resisted financing the deal during a meeting. They argued that the transaction was outside NSSA’s realm of administering pensioners’ funds with the sole objective of securing the capital and gaining a return.

“NSSA does not lend funds direct to any company. It lends to banks to on-lend to the productive sector, but under strict and limited conditions. The Telecel transaction would not qualify as such,” wrote Vela to Mandiwanzira.

In the letter, Vela said the committee and the management only reluctantly agreed to finance the deal after Priscah Mupfumira, the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, also directed Nssa to execute the transaction as earlier ordered by Mandiwanzira.

Ironically Nssa was part of a consortium comprising Old Mutual and CBZ which has been vigorously pushing the takeover of Telecel – until the consortium was elbowed out by the government to make way for Zarnet.

Various stakeholders, among them Brainworks and Kingvile investments, have also been battling to take over Telecel.

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