By Staff Reporter
THE government should take over the legacy debt inherited by the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) from the former Postal and Telecommunication Corporation (PTC), an official has said.
POTRAZ Director General Gift Machengete said this will pave way for the effective turnaround and refocusing of the authority.
He was speaking during a strategic planning workshop of parastatals and state-owned enterprises held in the eastern border city of Mutare Wednesday.
“We urge the government to take over the legacy debt inherited by POTRAZ from the former PTC. These few interventions by your ministry would certainly go a long way in paving the way for an effective turnaround through the intended refocusing,” Machengete pleaded with ICT minister Jenfan Muswere who was the guest speaker.
The PTC is a former government-owned postal and telecommunications company that was disbanded in 2000.
This saw the creation of NetOne, a mobile telecommunication company, TelOne, a fixed telecommunication service provider, ZimPost, a postal service company, and People’s Own Savings Bank (POSB).
It could not be ascertained how much the legacy debt was but it runs into millions of dollars.
PTC was once a monopoly in the country’s telecommunications sector which was latter liberalised.
Machengete also told Minister Muswere there was need for changes in the existing policies in order for the authority to effectively turnaround operations.
“Minister, from your end as the parent ministry, particularly from a policy perspective, in order for the authority to effectively turn around, we feel some pertinent changes should be made to existing policies,” he said.
Machengete also suggested the partial privatisation or merging of the state-owned telecommunication companies.
“To begin with, we motivate for partial privatisation or merging of state-owned telecommunication companies. Additionally, we believe there should be convergence at the regulator level.”
He also said there was need to ensure the Universal Service Funds (USF) are restricted to their mandate as this helps towards achieving Universal Access and Use of ICTs through the continued rollout of community information centres and base station towers.
“In this regard, we expect the ministry to defend the use of USF funds towards achieving Universal Access and Use of ICTs through the continued rollout of community information centres and base station towers as well as the rollout of specialised projects targeting vulnerable groups such as people living with disability, among other initiatives,” he said.
He told the minister the year 2020 had been a difficult year for the authority and the entire ICT sector in general due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is with no shred of doubt that 2020 has been a difficult year for us as an organisation and for the entire ICT sector in general, mostly owing to the Covid–19 pandemic.
“The pandemic almost brought work to a halt at one point during the initial total lockdown period and most certainly affected routine work during the subsequent lockdowns,” said Machengete.