via ‘Govt ready to reconsider Telecel shutdown’ – DailyNews Live 5 May 2015
HARARE – Government is ready to reconsider its decision to cancel mobile operator Telecel’s operating licence if it makes a formal appeal to the responsible ministry, a government official has said.
Presenting oral evidence before parliamentary portfolio committee on Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services yesterday, the minister Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Supa Mandiwanzira said his ministry was alive to the effects of government’s decision on its revenue base as well as Telecel employees and would not act recklessly.
Mandiwanzira said this in response to members of the Nelson Chamisa-led committee’s sentiments that there was no economic or national strategic sense in his decision to suspend the licence of a company employing more than 1 000 employees at a time the national unemployment rate stood at over 85 percent.
The ICT minister, however, told the committee that the cancellation of the licence was not cast in stone as the company could either appeal against it through him or approach the courts.
“Telecel has an opportunity to activate the Potraz Act provisions which allow them to appeal against the cancellation and as government, we are ready to engage them as long as they put across a strong argument,” Mandiwanzira said.
He revealed that Telecel’s foreign directors had since requested for a meeting with him, pencilled for today, with a view to finding an amicable solution to the problem.
“I received a letter from the directors requesting for a meeting on May 5 in order to find a solution,” Mandiwanzira said.
“I am waiting to hear what they have to say because that is what will either result in a reversal or sustenance of the cancellation.”
Legislators across the political divide including MDC’s Sesel Zvidzai and Zanu PF’s Paradzai Chakona queried the logic of government using a “sledge hammer approach” to the matter.
The MPs suggested that government purchases the shares and let the company continue to operate to save jobs and subscribers’ money held up in Telecash accounts.
“By cancelling the licence, are you not punishing the indigenous people? There does not seem to be desire on your part to bail out the workers,” asked Zvidzai.
Mandiwanzira said as a minister, he was merely applying the law. He called on MPs to craft laws that are more rationale.
He said as a minister he was guided by the law “not by all other senses that you are talking about but we are worried about the legal sense”.
“Emotionally, I probably agree with the issues you are raising but we have to abide by the law of the land and the law is not emotional so that is why we are saying they still have a chance,” Mandiwanzira said.
“It is up to them to appeal but for now they have not.”