After twelve years in exile, business tycoon and Telecel Chairman James Makamba returned to Zimbabwe last week sending tongues wagging across the sector as he registered his presence not only in the country but also Telecel offices last Friday, signalling his return to the apex of the company.
With only a few days in office, reports emanating from well-placed sources within the Mobile Network Operator indicate that Makamba has stopped the auctioning of the 40% stake by the Empowerment Council (EC).
While his return signals a good move towards stabilization and confidence and retention of stake in Telecel Zimbabwe, it comes with much disappointment to local stakeholders and buyers as their future now hangs by a thread.
The stakeholders controlling the 40% Empowerment Council stake are reportedly courting “big investor” to pump in capital to the asset, a move which may see the whole stake value shifting altogether.
Telecel Zimbabwe is set to announce the formal position this week after the board of directors have met with Mr Makamba and agreed on a road-map, responding to calls by President Mnangagwa for investors to look into Zimbabwean opportunities.
Both the Government of Zimbabwe, through Zarnet, a ministry of ICT’s arm and Brainworks have been eyeing the 40% stake, amidst rumours that they had already penned a deal with BrainWorks, causing the government to charge against the move, which then suffered a stillbirth, for the umpteenth time.
Telecel Zimbabwe is set for a stronger comeback after a free fall amidst license cancellation issues by the government which eventually saw the international stakeholder, Vimplecom packing its bags and selling its 60% for $40 million which was targeting total acquisition through the remaining 40%, towards total ownership.
It is however not clear if the local consortium is ever going to consider selling the 40% to the government as the deal has prolonged.
The come back move by Telecel Zimbabwe will change the asset value, which was once offered $20 million for the 40% stake by Brainworks, a deal which to date has failed to see the light of the day.
The capital injection move if accelerated will see Telecel Zimbabwe coming back as Zimbabwe’s fastest growing mobile network, which at a time in the past, was the real fiery competitor to Econet Wireless Zimbabwe before it was stuck up with license issues, which greatly killed customer confidence.
Telecel Zimbabwe local stakeholders who were caught up in boardroom squabbles over stake have also managed to bury their differences and committed to working together for the best interests of the company