Telkom South Africa's decision to pull the financial plug on Zimbabwe's TeleOne look like leaving MD Wellington Makamure's turnaround plans in tatters. The company owes Telkom South Africa a staggering USD18 million (in part for financing a South Africa-Zimbabwe fibre link) and clearly has stopped making the payments.

Tel*One spokesperson Phil Chingwaru confirmed Telkom had disconnected Zimbabwe for non-payment. "Currently, the company has had its connectivity to and through SA terminated as it has not honoured its debt to Telkom SA," he said.

The deal with Telkom was that Tel*One, which was a net receiver of revenue from Telkom, would pay for the upgrade of its network by deducting its dues from the money going to Zimbabwe. However, traffic from South Africa to Zimbabwe has dramatically dwindled, leaving Tel*One in a deficit with Telkom.

While South African callers can still dial directly to Harare, calls from that country to South Africa were being re-routed to Canada, through TeleGlobe's VoIP service.

Telkom spokesperson Lulu Letlape declined to comment, except to say the parastatal did not discuss its clients with "third parties".

"Zimbabwe's account [or that of any other customers] with Telkom is a private matter," she said.