Some government officials may be working so hard to make sure the Telecel deal collapses as the deadline to pay the pending $19 million balance approaches, TechnoMag has learnt.
As the Zimbabwe government is on the brink of losing Telecel Zimbabwe over a non payment, Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube professed genuine ignorance about the government purchasing Telecel Zimbabwe, a deal which was heavily pushed by former ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira to make sure government has controlling 60% stake, before completely taking over EC stake for 100% ownership.
Speaking to TechnoMag during an exclusive interview over the Zimbabwe Independence celebrations, the finance minister said he was honestly not appraised on the situation, which technically is a time bomb in waiting as government risks losing the asset over non payment by the government.
“I am honestly not aware of the pending balance and the deadline issue surrounding purchase of Telecel and maybe will have to seek the update from the relevant minister on the matter” he said.
Government is now in the third and last year of the deal which contractually must finalize the payment of any pending balance, where the government has only advanced $21million of the $40 million, meaning Vimplecom, the Russian based group is still expecting the $19 million balance, or terminates the contract, at the expense of the government .
As the government is currently reeling under serious nostro deficit pressure and lack of hard currency, prioritizing purchase of Telecel Zimbabwe may have been relegated to a lower priority as the finance minister has just disclosed that he is not even looking at making such a payment for one reason or the other.
Top of our worry may be that people handling the Telecel deal purchase may have deliberately kept the information away from the finance minister, who has already confirmed that the Telecel issue was never brought to his attention, meaning someone maybe scuttling the deal and want to see it fail.
The finance minister, may have developed interest or knowledge about the deal, but his latest revelations are rather shocking to say the least.
Another possibility is maybe he deliberately lied and professed ignorance about the natter, which however is the least of all possibilities, as the minister has been frantically working hard, to make sure Zimbabwe retains her position as a global leader and losing such a deal would be irrational and something outside his interest
While the highest possibility may be the fact that some people in authority may have simply sat on the papers, especially after ICT Minister Kazembe has already shown interest in restoring normalcy at Telecel, his hands are tied down as he can not do much since the government does not really own the stake they deposited.
Our fears are that people in government who must have appraised the cabinet on top priority matters may have simply felt that the Telecel deal must be allowed to be swept under the carpet and die a natural death especially after the moving away of former minister Supa Mandiwanzira
Supa had lots of strong friends and enemies, and our only guess is that due to his ties with the then first family, which were rumored to have interest in the Telecel deal with close connections with Dosantos, some people in government who are strongly against Mugabe’s would rather have the whole Telecel deal collapse.
However this would be very irrational as both the Mugabes and Supa Mandiwanzira are no longer part of the equation, and the government only stands to lose should they follow that narrative.
In our last acetate , the ICT Minister Hon Kazembe Kazembe said he was optimistic that the deal will close well and he has hope that Telecel Zimbabwe will soon bounce back to full operationalization , towards profitability.