There was drama at the recently held public ICT Parliamentary Portfolio Committee review, on the foiled tariff hike saga as mobile network operators took turns to point each other, while the national telecommunications regulator, Potraz was not spared as well.
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is laying the blame onto the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) saying the telecommunications regulator was concerned with the threat of demonstrations orchestrated via social media, and was advocating for high tariff to silence dissent.
Addressing the ICT Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chaired by Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T), NetOne acting CEO Brian Mutandiro accused Econet for pushing the price hike agenda. Mutandiro said Econet was the one that advocated for tariff increases but other networks felt their business would be strained.
He exonerated his company for being behind the tariff increase, according to the Newsday source.
“We requested more time with our subscribers because we knew it was going to be detrimental to us. We were going to suffer because the OneFusion package had given us growth,” he said.
Mutandiro also said Potraz was concerred with WhatsApp’s impact on Zimbabweans, “as it was a common threat” . Econet pinned the blame on Potraz which suspended promotions that were seen as enabling social media activism.
Zimbabwe was rocked by demonstrations last July led by now-exiled cleric, Evan Mawarire, demanding an end to corruption, among other issues.
Econet, Mboweni said, had applied for an extension of their promotions, but had been rebuffed by Potraz.
The Econet boss said all operators then met to come up with a floor price to be implemented by January, which the country’s biggest mobile operator complied with, only to realise they had been isolated.
“We had raised the issue of lack of a level playing field and this is not the first time, as it has happened with the $137,5 million licence fees, which Econet has paid in full, while other operators have not paid,” Mboweni said.
Telecel chief executive officer, Angeline Vere, said after the Potraz directive to reduce data tariffs, they were the first to comply and implemented it on December 20, only to discover that other operators had not done so.