Ministry of ICT, Zimbabwe has cancelled Telecel operating licence due to failure to clear an outstanding debt of USD 137.5 million, which was initially meant for the licence fee in an agreement made in 2013. The cancellation was confirmed by the ICT Minister, Supa Mandiwanzira.
Telecel is said to be the second largest operator in Zimbabwe with over 2.2 million subscribers against the country’s total population of 11.4 million subscribers.
According to Mandiwanzira, “Telecel has been operating without a licence since the expiry of their licence. They need to have paid US$ 137,5 million, which is the licence fee due to Government. They failed to pay, they asked for payment terms and they were granted payment terms through an agreement with the Ministry of ICTs, and they have even reneged on that agreement; therefore, the ministry, or Government, has cancelled that agreement.”
“Effectively this means that they are operating without a licence – in fact they have not had a licence anyway. The reason why we are allowing them to operate is simply because we acknowledge that as a business, they employ Zimbabweans; they have subscribers who, if we take drastic action, will be inconvenienced,” Mandiwanzira said.
Mandiwanzira further stressed the point that if Telecel attempts to sell off company assets, it runs the risk of said transactions being perceived as fraudulent. This is due to the operator failing to settle debt regarding the its licence.
In December 2014, Vimplecom indirectly bought 60 percent of Telecel Zimbabwe while exiled businessman James Makamba, and politician Jane Mutasa, own the remaining stake.