Strive Masiyiwa, founder of Econet Wireless has given instructions to shut down the Zimbabwean operations of the now global telecoms company. The instructions are for the mobile operator to close down business by the end of day 01 April 2010.
We visited number 2 Old Mutare road in Msasa today to confirm the story and found dejected employees (now Ex-employees) packing belongings into boxes and saying heartfelt goodbyes to each other.
We caught up with one employee packing his stuff into his car. He identified himself as Nhamo and didn’t waste time before hurling insults into the air, accusing the Econet Business Development team for ruining his life! Quizzed about this, he blamed them for failing to implement 3G fast enough. Fast enough for who? He explained “Look, when Strive founded Econet, he had a dream. He’s not happy about all this happening here! Those Biz dev guys really messed us up man!”
Another employee who only identified himself as Tendai said only the technicians and a few engineers would remain for the rest of the day – disconnecting subscribers. Instructions are to disconnect all subscribers by midday today.
Some Chinese ZTE executives (the company working with Econet on the national fibre project) who arrived while we were there couldn’t believe their eyes. One of them kept repeating a Chinese sentence, which we obviously didn’t understand. Nhamo, who has been working closely with them translated it literally to “I told you! we were supposed to be paid in advance!”
The real reasons for the decision to shut Econet Zimbabwe down are still elusive, but some sources say over the past few weeks, Strive has expressed concern about the years of losses from the Zimbabwean operations he has had to endure. We think straight jacket restrictive regulations also play a part.
POTRAZ, the telecoms regulator says they held talks with Mr. Masiyiwa over the phone all of yesterday to get him to rethink the decision and consider all realities first but Strive is not having any of it. He hung up on POTRAZ a total of 4 times. The final time he hit back “Now you know how it feels to beg!” before hanging up. POTRAZ is panicky about the collapse of Zim’s mobile communication systems this will result in.
The usual fat cats in high places are not worried a bit though; chaos and opportunity are good friends they say.
We tried to reach Mr. Mboweni to get details about the closure but his mobile says his number is no longer in use. Maybe he has switched lines already!
Gotcha! he he he!!!