Government To Privatize TelOne, NetOne and Telecel

Government has unveiled a parastatal reform plan that will see partial privatisation of TelOne, NetOne and Telecel, while ZARnet, Africom and Powertel will be merged into one company.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Hon Patrick Chinamasa said the government has been consistent in emphasizing the critical contribution expected from the State Enterprises and Parastatal (SEP) sector towards the revival of Zimbabwe’s economic fortunes with the parastatal reform plan designed to enhance performance.

By Pearson Mbendera

The move is designed to enhance performance, improve service-delivery and to bring more order, discipline and rationality to the sector as a whole,” said Chinamasa.

In the Mobile Network Sector, the state owned enterprises were failing to keep up with private owned entities such as Econet which has dominated the industry, reaping huge revenues while others were struggling.

With ZARNet, Africom and Powertel offering similar services yet at a much smaller scale than established private enterprises, the merging of the three may make them big enough to compete with other giants, particularly Liquid Telecom.

The government wholly owns TelOne and NetOne while it holds a 60% stake in Telecel. Speaking on how the privatisation would work, the minister said the government would try to utilise many available avenues.

With the government already owning 60% of Telecel, it remains to be seen what the partial privatisation of the Mobile Network Operator will mean as the 40% stake held by the Empowerment Corporation already indicates partial privatisation.

Earlier this year, ICT Minister Hon Supa Mandiwanzira appeared before the Parliamentary committee on media, ICT, Postal Services and Cyber Security, giving oral evidence on the government’s purchase of the 60% stake in Telecel saying that it was a brilliant move and that the government was going to dispose off of the stake but was yet to finalize on the details of selling off the stake. The minister had indicated that they had been any offers made for the government’s stake in Telecel.

The government has been struggling to keep many parastatals afloat and run them efficiently, a move that made Mabvuku South legislator Honourable James Maridadi question the government’s move through the Ministry of ICT, and Cyber Security to acquire majority stake in Telecel.

Minister Mandiwanzira had also spoken against the merging of Telecel and NetOne, pointing out that, while it looks good, such a move was difficult to implement given that government didn’t own 100% Telecel stake.

Detailed implementation modalities for each of the Cabinet decisions will be provided in the form of a Memorandum to Cabinet by each respective Line Ministry, including indications, where relevant or necessary, for the engagement of technical, financial or legal advisors in order to facilitate the reform or restructuring process agreed by Cabinet.

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