VICTORIA FALLS– Mobile operator Telecel Zimbabwe, whose operating licence was cancelled last month over alleged non-compliance with the country’s regulations, should not have been allowed to operate without a licence and its current problems were a result of failure to observe the rule of law, finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
Regulator Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) cancelled the mobile phone operator’s licence on 28 April, and gave it 30 days to wind up operations and another 60 days to decommission its equipment.
On Thursday, the firm got a temporary reprieve to continue operating after High Court judge, Justice Nicholas Mathonsi suspended the cancellation pending finalisation of its legal fight with Potraz.
Telecel this week insisted that it was following a payment plan for the licence’s renewal agreed with government that allowed it to continue operating.
But officiating at an annual congress of the Zimbabwe Association of Pension Funds (ZAPF) in Victoria Falls on Thursday, Chinamasa said somebody had “slept on duty.”
“We have come to this stage because someone slept on his job. The law is very clear that no company can get a licence without paying licence fees. At some point Telecel indicated they had no money and if people were doing their jobs properly, the company couldn’t have been allowed to operate,” said Chinamasa.
“The law was specific and clear which is why the licence was not issued but the question is, how was Telecel then allowed to operate?”
He said this was a sign of lack of rule of law and that the move by Potraz was belatedly trying to correct the anomaly.
Telecel is Zimbabwe’s third biggest mobile operator with over two million subscribers. Amsterdam-headquartered communications firm VimpelCom owns 60 percent of the firm, with the remaining 40 percent being controlled by Empowerment Corporation (EC), a local consortium.