Telecel vows fight, says shutdown ‘unfair and unwarranted’

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TELECEL Zimbabwe has vowed to fight to continue operating after it was shut-down Wednesday by telecoms regulator the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ).
The company is the second-biggest wireless phone network in the country with 2.5 million subscribers.
Since 2013, it has failed to pay a $137.5 million fee to renew its 20-year licence and the government had already threatened to switch off its network.
In a statement Potraz said the company was being shutdown partly for breaching the country’s black empowerment laws.
International telecom firm VimpelCom, based in the Netherlands, has a 60 percent stake in Telecel Zimbabwe, making it the major shareholder with the balance held by local investors.
Zimbabwe’s indigenisation law compels foreign companies to cede majority shares to local partners.
Potraz said the company had 30 days to wind up its operations adding all infrastructure was expected to be taken down within 60 days.
However, in a statement Telecel called the shutdown “unfair and unwarranted” and promised to fight back.
“Telecel has made every effort to comply with all legal and governmental requirements in Zimbabwe, and objects to this treatment in the strongest terms,” the company said.
“Telecel and its global shareholders are taking immediate action both locally and internationally to challenge this decision,” it added.
POTRAZ did not give reasons for the shutdown, but Information and Communication Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira warned last month of Telecel’s impending closure for a breach of the black empowerment law and failing to pay a licence fee.
“Our position that Telecel has been operating without a licence and failed to honour local empowerment laws is the same position that has been adopted by Cabinet,” Mandiwanzira said.
To minimise the inconvenience to Telecel’s two million subscribers, POTRAZ said it had issued a special 30-day licence to enable Telecel to wrap up its business.
“During this period, it is expected that Telecel Zimbabwe subscribers switch to alternative networks,” the authority said.
“A further 60 days has been given to Telecel Zimbabwe to decommission their telecommunication equipment,” it added.Advertisement