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NetOne threatens to have Econet leaders arrested over Interconnection dispute

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NetOne is not taking the blow they suffered from Econet yesterday lightly. In a press notice released today, the state owned mobile operator has threatened to have Econet Wireless Zimbabwe’s board and management arrested over the termination of interconnection services between the two mobile operators that Econet carried out yesterday.

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After the termination, NetOne made an application to the Zimbabwe High Court to compel Econet to restore the interconnection services. The services have been restored. NetOne says however that it “believes that Econet and its management have committed a criminal offence by unlawfully and willfully impending the transmission of communication services between customers of both networks,” an offence that the state owned operator says it will be reporting to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

NetOne also says in the notice that Econet’s termination of Interconnection services yesterday was a threat to national security.

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As for the reasons NetOne won’t pay the debt that Econet says it owes, the notice explains that an appeal it made to the Minister of Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development has to have its issues determined first. NetOne says it appealed against the current interconnection regime as it favours what is referred to as Sender Keeps All (SKA), an arrangement that doesn’t require operators to pay each other for telecommunications traffic exchanged between their networks. This, NetOne argues, will allow the price of telecommunications to drop for subscribers as the savings on the fees will be passed on to them making calls at least as low as 16 cents per minute.

NetOne also says in the notice that the appeal they made (them and state owned fixed line operator, TelOne) resulted in POTRAZ suspending all interconnection negotiations pending the determination of the issues. The company says therefore that since the last interconnection agreement between them and Econet had expired back in 2006 (or 2007, it’s not clear), they technically do not have an agreement to pay each other interconnection fees.

As things stand, the parties are supposed to remain technically interconnected pending the determination of the appeals currently before the Minister and the approval of the new agreements by POTRAZ in accordance with the provisions of Section 61 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act.

NetOne also used the opportunity to call out Econet for what it says is denying users of telecommunication services in Zimbabwe the same services that Econet claimed to fight for when they established the company:

Ironically, Econet were in the forefront of fighting for liberalisation of the telecommunications sector in Zimbabwe on the pretext of offering the people of Zimbabwe a choice on the means of communications and yet they are now denying the same members of the public an opportunity to call whatever network they wish. Their unilateral and unlawful action is tantamount to denying the same members of the public that same choice that they claim to have been fighting for

We will be posting the full text of the NetOne notice shortly.

update: Here’s the full text of the NetOne public notice.


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17 thoughts on “NetOne threatens to have Econet leaders arrested over Interconnection dispute

  1. Kind of funny response, are Netone implying they are charging 16cents for the calls or they are charging the plus 23c and keeping difference. As if they really do care about the subscribers.

  2. There we have it!! The network with the widest coverage is clutching at straws! Have they been keeping the fees they have been charging their clients who called Econet into some Trust fund pending the finalisation of the so called appeal?

  3. Zimbabweans will be going to elections soon. And now would be a bad time for a state-owned businesses to be seen leading the arrests of business executives.

    All it does is remind people the arrests of Chris Kuruneri [Minister of Finance](acquitted), Nicholas Vingirai [Southampton insurance/Intermarket](acquitted), James Mushore [NMB](acquitted) and many more between 2003 and 2005. And frankly, Zimbabweans are tired of arrests of business executives that even a genuine arrest would be treated with political supsicion. It is now public knowledge that Kuruneri bailed out the country with his own personal funds when the country had nothing.

    Econet has done more for Zimbabwe than state-owned Netone can claim. Econet, a private company of less than 2000 people, has looked after 40 000 orphans year-in-year-out which Netone cannot do. Not to mention construct towers and lay the fibre optic cable, employing Zimbabweans. I would expect a stat-owned mobile network to be at the forefront of creating jobs and contributing the bulk of taxes. It would be unstrategic to suggest arrests over disconnection when state-owned Netone owes Econet money, millions of dollars.

    It gets worse considering that if anything happens to Econet, it will affect (or be known to) its 6 million strong (voting) subscribers and certainly that would hardly help the government-of-national-unity and the ministers involved. The negative publicity from it all would just be too much, and enough to influence many votes.

    Netone must stick to business, not getting ahead at the expense of private indigenous businesses owned by indigenous Black Zimbabweans.

  4. what a load of bolox! NetOne!…if you were never meant to pay Econet why then did you pay it before…you guys are just crap-masters man, and what National Security are you talking about?…is it anyone’s fault that state agents use your network?..why dont they take the chance to call amongst themselves exclusively then? Pitiful!

  5. I hate Econet! I hate Netone! and i dont really like Telecel!

    Netone is now on top of my shitlist, welldone guys keep it up.

  6. Econet has just revived the Government fears that telecommunications in private hands is a security threat. They have just demonstrated that they can execute a cool and with their size its very easy to stop all communications in Zimbabwe and make a blackout. So what do you expect the government to do – possibly pass a law that the Government should have a sizable stake in all Telecoms operators

  7. Haiwawo, anaNetone zvipiko. Chingobhadharai apa makanyarara. Ndipo pamatowanawo mukana wekudakubatirira Econet. Buritsai mari apa!

  8. Its funny how the market is ready to sympathize with Econet even when they have willfully took the subscribers for granted and also violated the provision of the law. Why should Econet subscribers be deprived to communicate with their Netone associates because Econet could not collect their debt, which debt is not yet due since the matter is still pending. Remember how we where all moved from Liberty lines and Post-paid lines to prepaid lines without warning but just because some people at Econet thought you might pay.We where never consulted or accorded a chance to “defend ourselves” . We should be weary of this Econet animal. Read the signs.

    For all I know we should be proud of Netone for being one of the few gvt owned entities still standing and very much in the game which is quite competitive and capital hungry inspite of the fact the shareholder has not contributed anything to improve the technical capacity of Netone. I dare anyone that to try the Netone broadband and if testify if there is any on the market that can match.

    1. We are weary of celebrating “Netone for being one of the few gvt owned entities still standing..” while we still watch it fall. What we want is assurance that it will continue standing and not ‘asi vakambo turaya’. The issue here is competence and corporate governance more than anything. Netone had a huge head start in a very lucrative business where very few have failed especially here in Africa. With a clear vision and good decision making mechanism, Netone could have taken other African markets by now. What I see is a spoiled child always reporting his friends to his parents for unfair play and not putting effort in improving his game. We absolutely need Netone to survive lest we get abused by the growing mammoth but they need to put their parent aside a little and stop defending themselves with political connotations… This may not be very good public relations.

  9. Very few realise the fact that netone despite lack of capital injection is still in the game.They have lauunched an extensive 3g network in harare recently with excellent unmatched speeds in the industry & i wonder what would have happened if they had same resources as econet.People are quick to judge netone unfairly since they have become slaves of econet.I dare Kabweza and his crew to now redo an internet speed test now and see who has real broadband you can start with kuwadzana , dz , budiriro, hopley , highfields and plenty of suburbs and see what netone has done despite lack of capital injection.If indeed econet leaders committed a criminal offence they should pay for it, why should they be spared as if they are special.No one is above the law and again i say there is no politics here.Criminals must be locked up.Econet leders must read the telecommunication act again together with its amendmets coz that will help them in future.No one has the right to impedede communication.CRIMINALS SHOULD PAY PERIOD!!!

  10. Typical language of a former bully. Netone is now finished. Yes they have faster 3g speeds only becaus ethey are supplying a paltry no. of subscribers. How many people on Netone really use Internet as compared to Econet. Yes Econet are becoming monopolistic but thats another story all together. The bottom line comes back to Netone behaving like Govt, or rather Zanu PF, refusing to pay its debts & then blaming others (Sanctions story). You cannot exist as a Telecoms provider without an interconnection agreement, The fact that the agreement was not properly concluded doesnt mean absence. I shudder to think what would have happened had it been the reverse. Govt wld have sold Strive’s house. How do you threaten to involve police when you hands are dirty. I cheat on my wife, she catches me & locks me out of bedroom & l report her to Cops……Whos fooling (a) who.

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