The Universal Services Fund legally financed the Telecel Zimbabwe stake which was up for grabs as opposed to the case that Government was abusing the funds.
USF is a trust fund overseen by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory of Zimbabwe (Potraz)
By Kudakwashe Pembere
With the USF being empowered to acquire stake in any company it desires, it is a misrepresentation of facts that they abused the trust’s funds to finance the Telecel Zimbabwe acquisition, a Cabinet minister has said.
This comes after Econet claimed that the money it contributes to the fund was used to acquire the 60percent stake in Telecel.
Giving oral evidence about the data tariff increase and reversal to the Parliamentary Committee on ICT, Postal and Courier Services said most companies are conduits to the fund which they subscribed to.
“It is a misrepresentation that any if the networks is paying a fee towards the Universal Services Fund. No single operator has paid money for the USF.
“The USF has received money from the people of Zimbabwe who are subscribers to the operators. When these operators do their pricing models approved by the regulators they actually they are going to levy this portion from the subscribers.
“Being a conduit does not give the right as an operator that we have given much to the fund and I think this is a misrepresentation that has been allowed to continue for a long time,” he said.
Added Mandiwanzira,” So if Econet has presented to you Mr Chair and the Committee that they paid $60 million its a misrepresentation.They were a conduit for the $60 million.”
“USF has the right to buy shares in Econet,in Telecel which were available at that time and even NetOne if they are there,” he said.
The Universal Service Fund (USF) was established with main intention of providing funding for extending communication networks beyond the borders of economic viability to reach marginalised communities in rural areas throughout Zimbabwe.
USF intends to provide basic access of voice and postal services to all irrespective of their geographical location This is a flagship of the Fund hence the concerted drive to install shared passive base station infrastructure throughout Zimbabwe.
Over and above this the Universal Service Fund also supports the provision of backhaul transmission network to rural ICT centres at post offices,post buses, mobile internet connectivity for rural schools. This speeds up network roll out to cover the entire country.
The minister also highlighted that plans are on course to set up over 600 base stations in rural areas for people living there to access data at affordable prices.
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