By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito
Since the Telecel operating licence expired last month, the International managing director of Telecel Mr John Swaim and legal counsel Mr David Dobbie were in Zimbabwe discussing the matter with Government.
The other main issue was that of implementing the shareholding structure according to the indigenisation and empowerment act.
Mr Swaim said “We had big meetings with the telecoms ministry and the Ministry of Finance and the topic of discussion was licence renewal and the discussions on licence renewal went very positively.
“We committed to have this resolved very soon. Interestingly, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Telecoms decided that they will grant us an extension of time to resolve the licence renewal and to resolve the ownership issues,” said Mr Swaim
The Telecel International officials said Government had been treating the licence and shareholding issues separately and did not demand that they be addressed simultaneously.
The executive said Telecel Zimbabwe was in discussions with its 40 percent local shareholding partner Empowerment Corporation over the disposal of the 20 percent as stated in its licence.
With their first cellular licence being issued in 1998, Telecel International said it had taken long for the issues to be addressed because the licence was re-issued with the same conditions in 2002 following the inception of the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe. (POTRAZ)
Nonetheless, it took longer than expected for Telecel International to shed the excess shareholding.
The presiding minister over telecommunication Hon Nicholas Goche said “I told to them talk to Empowerment Corporation and go to the original 60-40 position in favour of Empowerment Corporation. I told them to ensure that they finish this as soon as possible,” he said.
“But Empowerment Corporation will have to pay for those shares (from Telecel International),” Minister Goche said.
Telecel is not under any pressure as it was not given specific timelines within which to comply.