By Robert Tapfumaneyi
STRIVE Masiyiwa’s Econet mobile network says its existence was under threat from former President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s advisor Christopher Mutsvangwa.
Mutsvangwa, according to court papers filed at the High Court by Econet, has threatened the telecoms giant with action similar to the November 2017 military coup that deposed long serving Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe.
During the coup, the fiery war veterans leader was at the thick of things, urging locals to throng the streets in support of the military action.
Econet chief executive officer Douglas Mboweni said in his urgent court application Tuesday that the company was under siege.
He singled out Mutsvangwa as among those seeking to annihilate the blue chip firm.
The Econet boss is seeking an order to set aside the search and seizure warrant of a company server and documents issued recently by a Harare magistrate.
“This loss value of the Zimbabwe dollar has been blamed on Econet and Old Mutual as it fully appears on the press statements,” Mboweni said in his urgent chamber application.
“Chris Mutsvangwa was on television blaming Econet and threatening them with action similar to the coup that happened in 2017.
“The reference to coup betrays an agenda to destroy Econet from its market leadership position and enthrone another operator.
“Therefore, these warrants are calculated to enrage Econet subscribers and to drive them from Econet.
“If this position is disputed by the Respondents, the Applicant reserves the right to play the video by Mutsvangwa at the hearing.”
Mboweni added, “It is also important to mention that Chris Mutsvangwa is married to the current Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa and that he has an interest in telecommunications industry.
“At the time Applicant applied for its initial licence in 1997, Chris Mutsvangwa was a principal in a consortium that applied for telecommunications licence but was unsuccessful.
“As a result, the threats against the applicant must be taken in that context.”
ZRP Commissioner General Godwin Matanga is cited as 1st Respondent with CID’s head of Asset Forfeit Unit Mkhululi Nyoni and Provincial Magistrate Richard Ramaboa as 2nd and 3rd Respondents respectively.
Relations between the Emmerson Mnangagwa led administration and the country’s biggest telecoms provider took a knock recently when authorities accused Econet subsidiary, Ecocash of driving the country’s volatile foreign currency exchange rate through computer generated bank balances.
Government has since applied through the courts, for a search and seizure warrant, arguing that Econet credited huge sums of money which were distributed to runners through trust accounts, fuelling the black market.
However, if claims of a plot to annihilate the company are anything to go by, this could turn out to be a replay of the late 1990s scenario in which Masiyiwa broke sweat to have the company registered, as the then Mugabe government banged doors in his face.