Government Cancels Telecel Licence in Zimbabwe over shareholding dispute

Telecoms

The state run Herald newspaper reported that the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) had cancelled Telecel Zimbabwe's license over a shareholding dispute.

A statement issued by the Authority said the owners of the company had failed to "regularise the company's shareholding structure, which was heavily skewed in favour of foreigners." Under the conditions of the licence, the foreign ownership of the company was limited to not more than 49% as required by the Communications Act. Telecel International held 60% of the shares, and this left 11% disputed shares that Telecel was required to restructure.

According to The Herald, Potraz had given Telecel Zimbabwe a deadline of June 30 this year to change the shareholding structure or risk losing its licence. Businessman James Makamba and Jane Mutasa reportedly gained control of the company after paying US$3,5 million to Telecel International for the disputed 11% shares. Makamba is reported to have said he notified Potraz of this development, but the license was cancelled regardless.

St Marys MP Job Sikhala, who is on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communication, said Leo Mugabe could be trying to take over Telecel using his political connections to his uncle Robert Mugabe. Leo Mugabe also sits on the Communications Portfolio Committee. Sikhala said he has no doubt that Leo flexed his political muscle to influence the decision by Potraz. He explained that Leo once tried to buy shares in Telecel but his cheque bounced.

Sikhala said Leo Mugabe is always using his political clout to muscle his way into whatever he wants. And when he gets it, he always destroys it. Giving another example, Sikhala recalled a by-election that was held in Makonde after the death of Swithun Mombeshora. He said Leo Mugabe contested and was defeated by Kindness Paradza. "Because Robert Mugabe has a unique interest in him," said Sikhala, "Leo was somehow imposed in Makonde." But Sikhala also said the government may simply want the company, the way they took over Mutumwa Mawere's mining empire.

(Source: SW Radio Africa)