AAG Demands Telecel Stake in Zimbabwe

Telecoms

The Affirmative Action Group, an empowerment lobby group headed by Supa Mandiwanzira, is demanding reinstatement of its shareholding in Telecel Zimbabwe, which it claims to have been allocated when the firm's licence was issued in 1998.

In a letter to Telecel Zimbabwe chairman, Transport, Communications and Infrastructure Development Minister Nicholas Goche, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, AAG executive director Dr Davidson Gomo said the group's original 9 percent stake in the company must be given back to the organisation.

The mobile phone company's licence was issued in 2004 by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe and AAG was one of the empowerment groups that was earmarked to benefit from the licence. Dr Gomo said the AAG was under immense pressure to reclaim its shareholding in Telecel because its name had been used in obtaining the licence.

"The national executive committee of the AAG at a meeting held on May 11, 2010, resolved by unanimous decision to claim our portion of the shares as originally granted to us and further assert our right to claim on pro-rata basis any further shares arising from share disposals," reads an excerpt of the letter.

It could not be ascertained whether the letter was written to acting chairperson Jane Mutasa or to exiled Telecel chairman James Makamba, who was recently de-specified by Government after he had been specified in 2005 on allegations of externalisation. Makamba indicated last week that he would return home.

Herald Business also understands AAG was given the privilege to buy a stake in Telecel Zimbabwe when the licence was issued. They, however, failed to raise the funds and the then AAG president Philip Chiyangwa is believed to have bought the shares using his personal funds, which he, however, sold later.

It is believed that the shares were sold to either Makamba or Mutasa, who were the remaining original shareholders in the Empowerment Corporation, as terms of the licence dictated that they had the right of first refusal. Mutasa could not be contacted for comment before going to press last week.

Telecel Zimbabwe has been at the centre of an ownership wrangle with several prospective shareholders, including Leo Mugabe, also claiming a stake. Currently Indigenous Business Women Organisation president Mrs Mutasa and former politicain and exiled businessman Makamba in either their individual or institutional capacities, are believed to own 40 percent of the company's equity through a vehicle called the Empowerment Corporation.

War veterans, the National Small-Scale Miners' Association of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union, who were also part of the original Empowerment Corporation, are allegedly in the process of claiming "their" shareholding in the mobile phone operator.