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Econet Wireless Statement on Interconnection with Telecel Zimbabwe

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As a part of the ongoing issue between Econet Wireless and Telecel Zimbabwe, the following update has just been posted on Econet’s official Facebook page:

Econet Wireless wishes to state the following regarding interconnection with Telecel Zimbabwe:

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 Econet Wireless was on 10 July 2013, awarded a renewed 20-year licence following the expiry of the 15-year licence issued in 1998. This licence places certain strict conditions on our operations. Clause 5.2.2 of our licence requires us to interconnect only with licensed operators.  

This paragraph derives from Section 61 of the Act, which allows a licensed operator to interconnect with another licensed operator.  Section 2 of the Act defines a licensee as a holder of a valid licence issued in terms of section 37 of the Act.  There is no obligation to interconnect with a provider of telecommunications services that is not validly licensed in terms of Section 37 of the Act.

Telecel Zimbabwe is not a holder of a valid licence issued in terms of Section 37 of the Act.  Telecel Zimbabwe was announced as the winner of a tender to operate a mobile telecommunications service in 1996.  The award of the licence to Telecel Zimbabwe was declared to be invalid by a High Court judgment handed down on 31 December 1997.  Telecel Zimbabwe appealed to the Supreme Court, but the appeal was never pursued.  The High Court granted leave for the execution of its judgment pending appeal.  That leave was never challenged in the Supreme Court.  If Telecel Zimbabwe was subsequently issued with a licence, the issue of such a licence was in violation of the High Court Judgment, and of the Telecommunications legislation that applied at the time.

 In any event, as is a matter of public record, the Telecel Zimbabwe licence was subsequently validly terminated.  Assuming the licence issued to Telecel was valid and was not validly terminated, such licence expired on 2 June 2013. As can be confirmed with regulatory authorities, no new licence had been issued in its place.  Therefore, as matters stand, Telecel is not a holder of a valid telecommunications licence issued in terms of section 37 of the Act.

Econet Wireless does not have any legal or moral obligation to interconnect with an unlicensed operator.  In fact, we have a duty to disconnect such an operator.  Econet Wireless has fully met the terms of its new licence, which terms include hugely burdensome financial obligations.  In contrast, Telecel has not been subjected to any such financial obligations. With no such burden upon it, Telecel has been free to deliberately engage in trading practices that have distorted the playing field.

 In the circumstances, Econet Wireless regrets to advise that we are obliged to disconnect Telecel from our network. 


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88 thoughts on “Econet Wireless Statement on Interconnection with Telecel Zimbabwe

  1. Econet is just being pompous and a
    bully. Do they mean to say they haven’t been aware Telecel is not
    licensed for the past 15 years they have been connected to them?

    Do we have a competition commission in Zimbabwe? These are the cases
    where it is needed, when an big industry player is using its muscle to
    intimidate smaller players.

    I am going to boycott Econet in protest against their bullying.

    1. I wish I could boycot – but the truth is, they are too big. There is no way I can suddenly stop using their network – and I think they know that this is the case for most people. I just hope there is some reasonable authority able to clip their wings a little.

      1. They are NOT too big, that’s just the way sheeple think. It would inconvenience you for a bit to adjust and inform others of your change, but for any change there is always a price, especially when standing up for your values against the herd.

        I personally quit Econet’s services ages ago and have been quite content. Especially since I hadn’t lost my phone or numbers it took much less effort than replacing a lost phone, for example.

    2. There is no fair competition if one player is paying 100 million to renew its licence and the other is not and can put that money in the bank and use the interest to give its customers free airtime. Wake up. The field is only level when both players have complied with the law and met the required monetary obligations. How much interest does 100 million in the bank generate per day?

      1. Are you aware that Telecel is in talks with the gvt on their shareholding structure to comply with the indigenisation policy, compliance of which has been made a pre-condition to renewing their licence?So let us not act like they have no intentions of paying the USD$100mil.The truth of the matter is that it is NOT econet’s call to disconnect Telecel for non-compliance.POTRAZ has that mandate and their silence is defeaning.Once again, the regulator sleeps on the wheel.

  2. Drama unfolding.

    Now if Telecel has no licence why are calls from Econet to Telecel going through ? Mind you thi is the same company that disconnected Netone when the later launched the $ 1 a day promotion abd cited that Netone owed them.

    We can not have a company that disconnects and connects other companies willy nilly.They have done that with Netone , Africom , Aquiva , Telco in the past.

    This is a secuty risk.I magine a doctor on telecel with patients on Econet network ?

    Imagine a security company with Telecel lines trying to call ZRP for help ?

    Any ways this is good marketing for Telecel.It shows that Econet is as a saviour as most people have been made to believe.This speaks volumes the gross compromise that our regulator POTRAZ

    Mind ou this company is running Ecocash .One cant avoid thinking of a day when Econet will disconnect you from your bank account or money. They might be digging their own grave.

    The timiing is not good as well as this is election time.

    1. Telesh**t ngaitore licence apo kwete kungo tsvaga tunyaya. Iwewe Robert oda kuti econet isatedzere mutemo here? Hatichada nyika inongoti vanhu vanoita zvavanoda pava fungira ngava tenge Licence.

    2. Nhai Robby, ko pawakaita CCVP yako waingodzidza kuti muite ma networks amunongodya mari musingabhadhari mutero here. Tinodawo ma fair dhiri pano

    3. Telecel was still concluding their shareholding structure with the
      indegenisation board and it was a requirement for them to comply with
      government laws before their license could be renewed. Their directors
      had flown into the country from Egypt for the talks last week. Not that
      Telecel was exempt from license fees Econet jus jumped to capitalise on
      the situation

    1. the Telecommunications Act still protects Econet Net*One and Telecel just as the US/UK protects its own players. Trust me at&t here in the US are just the same as Econet hapana musiyano. My only question is was Telecel still concluding its shareholding structure since 1997? Fact is Potraz was treating Telecel with kid gloves coz it has ZPF stalwarts as shareholders

  3. Econet starting to feel the heat. I won’t stop using telecel, will dump the econet bullies full stop

    1. Same here mate! Econet has just saved me money! I’ll just use whatsapp instead, and any econet user who wants to talk to me can bloody well call me instead. I will not side with a bully.

  4. Oh please Econet… We all know you are a big player. Prove your mettle by letting the fair competition take place. So are we going to sue POTRAZ for allowing Telecel to operate huh? I personally am disappointed. I’m no saint, but with the way Econet is perceived to be an organisation founded on Christian values, it seems to be all hogwash.

    Lawyers know the law and its potential loopholes and in this case, Econet’s legal advisors were probably alert and ready to give this press statement as the reason for their actions but I strongly suspect there are other issues behind this.

    Last words…Econet, Telecel, Netone…please just allow us to select whichever network we want…may your fights not affect the customer because its the customers who made you. I know when elephants fight, its the grass that suffers but I’m sure you can find other ways of fighting your own wars!

    Many thanks

    TSA

    1. There is no fair competition if one player is paying 100 million to renew its licence and the other is not and can put that money in the bank and use the interest to give its customers free airtime. Wake up.

      1. No u wake up!! The fact that POTRAZ the regulatory authority has not shut down telecel.. should send signals. Econet made itself the judge and executer. What they should have done was launch a formal appeal with the relevant Authorities. We for our part shall continue using Telecel

    2. I agree with Robert on this one, please stop emotionalizing the issue to smear the good name of econet over illegal tendencies by it’s competitors. It’s amazing that in the same breath you raise questions on it’s Christian values, you expect it to go on sponsoring an obviously illegal chancer! I would have said econet should have shut it down a long time ago but this was a smarter move, because like they said..”if Telecel had a license that no-one else knows about by now it should have expired also”..Therefore what they did was the right thing at the lowest risk to themselves and their reputation.

      1. and econet acts like mupurisa arikumisa combi yese achiti hauna bin bvisa 20 dollars

  5. Business is an art of war “corporate war” but remember, a warrior ain’t a warrior when he fights women and children.

    If all other things are equal people should buy more Telecel lines and leave Econet alone. 🙂 being a Zimbo we flow with the flow like dead fish otherwise this would be a cool time to boycott Econet 🙂

    1. You mean zimbos suffering an “inconvenience” in defence of principles? Not likely of this flock!

      1. what i meant is clear to a clear mind. mind is like mirror it gathers dust while it reflects.how you understand this depends on how your mind is, if it’s dirty you will get a dirty image or dirty understanding.you can suit yourself & please don’t take it personal.

  6. Haha way to use the fine print to destroy the competition, who knew Econet could be so cut throat!

    Oh well as long as they have the people’s best interest at heart…

    I am more interested on how Telcel thought they could file a complaint with POTRAZ when their ducks were not in a row.
    I’m all for competition and this is sad that Econet may benefit, in terms of monopoly, when Telecel was making some waves.

    I hope Telecel get their license together and continue to chase Econet, it’s us who benefit!

  7. the time has come to boycott econet for bulling not only telcel but also you and I as Zimbabweans

    1. Econet are thieve if we let them monopolize the market they will abuse us
      1 They sale lines exorbitantly till competition rescued us.
      2 They charge internet exorbitantly till telecel come to our rescue.
      This is a plot to day light robery if telecel is out woe to you zimbabwean munodyiwa sematemba makasvinura

      1. The competition rescued you because they were not playing fair…
        They keep giving you promos because without the obligation of paying for a license then there is very little cost to their operations. If Econet had been disconnected for failure to register would you have complained? The law should not be applied Partially!

  8. So why is the ordinary user affected by your fights. We just want or desire affordable reliable voice and data services

    1. People are affected not really by econet but by their desire to affiliate with a cheap service provider. Not all that glitters is gold. Econet is indeed an organisation that provides charity services but that is not a reason to expect that its telecomms services are charitable gifts. And for your information my brother, business and law cannot be separated.

  9. As customers we would like to get things on the cheap (enabling the pocket to go further), however, its a jungle out there. I am curious why Telecel would run to publish their beef to Potraz, knowing they don’t have a locus citandi. Could they have actually made things worse, in the event Econet decides to stick to their legal obligation (not their moral). What are the economic and legal consequences of connecting with an unlicensed operator???

    To the legal minds out there, will Econet be able to recover monies incurred during this period when Telecel does not have a valid licence (some technical illegality of some sort), which might be used by Telecel itself to renerge on their debt??

    I am with Econet on this one, those who were throttled should simply buy Telecel lines if they want. kikikiki

    1. Spot-on mate. lets all remind ourselves that Telecel are not some small fish relative to Econet. All things considered, Telecel are part of a very big global operation. They are very good at playing the victim game while flouting regulations to the detriment of their competitors.

  10. Is it about adhering to the law and regulations or is there a third party behind the scenes e.g politicians instructing Econet to behave that way given the timing – elections, indigenisation, telecel owners trying to renew licence (remember water, council rates) ?

  11. Here is another angle from which to look at this.Government is broke they want money for elections. Econet paid up and so MAYBE gov instructed Econet to disconnect Telecel and pressure them to renew their license.We are talking about $ 180 million here !

    This might have unintended consequences.

    Telecel must pay their fees and Econet must stop being a BIG BROTHER who wants protection but at the same time bull dozes into other areas and cries foul when people are innovative and creative “in their network”.

    1. I have already signed: are you responsible for the petition? If so, please correct the text. The second sentence should start with WE – right now it look like a teenage chat shorthand or something. Econet must restore service for Telecel calls to their network.W want every Zimbabwean to call without any restrictions. Lets deliver a message to ECONET that we do not accept UNETHICAL behavior in Zimbabwe.

  12. Econet must be congratulated for taking a bold move to disconnect an illegal operator. Telecel must be legally registered to operated. They have been making money all these years now they want to come up with licensing fee by running some bogus promotions…They must feel the heat…infact there is a lot going on inside telecel than seen by naked eye.

    1. Few items on that one @54bceb0f100ead3c6f8b199ed482c4c5:disqus:
      1. Who is to enforce whether Telecel disconnects/shuts down? Econet? The regulator – POTRAZ? The parent ministry – Ministry of Transport & Communications?
      2. Econet have not “disconnected” Telecel, as calls can still get through to Econet from Telecel, albeit after 20+ attempts, and Econet subscribers can still easily call Telecel numbers. So long and short of it, they have chosen to throttle the service.
      3. Econet too HAVE NOT PAID their licence fees, well at least they have been given a payment plan by the government to pay

      1. u need to read the ZImbabwean law b4 u talk. The law is da law its only in Zim where the law is an option

    2. Then shouldn’t Econet also pay back all those interconnect fees that they have been happily collecting over the years? And WHY THEN are they still connecting calls FROM holy pure Econet TO those illegal Telecel numbers?

  13. rules are not the same for everyone. why are other operating without licences. this is also unfair competition that needs a strong response. this world is just full of angry people who do not know why they are angry

    1. Telecel must just own up and pay up their license renewal fees just like they are supposed to pay their ex-CEO his rightful dues.

  14. Now is the time for POTRAZ to force mobile network operators to implement number porting! It will surely solve a lot of these bullying issues and put the interest of the customer first!

  15. Thats what I call a sucker punch….Dai ari munhu taiti mhepo dzekwako dzasimuka…chimbosvika kwMakandiwa ubetserwe.

  16. Econet has been interconnecting with telecel since 15 years ago. Why is it suddenly an issue now?

    This is all to do with the mega bonus introduced by telecel. Everyday thousands of people are buying new telecel lines at the expense of Econet. Zimbabweans are price sensetive. Econet is feeling the heat and now trying to bully Telecel. When did Econet and Mboweni become regulator of this industry? Thats the job of potraz to shut down telecel or not.

    Being given a Telecoms license doesnt mean you should abuse it. This is clear abuse of position of dominance in a strategic important national sector.

    We cant all be held at ransom by a company which has zero customers at heart. Telecel is pro people, pro poor. At the other hand Econet is there to make 100% profits milking the desparetely poor zimbabweans. This chickenary must be stopped

    1. how many poor people have been sent to school or university by telecel

    2. Pro poor my foot. This is business my friend. Do you even realise that Telecel are part of a group with well over half a billion subscribers globally. Econet is dwarfed by comparison. Their parent company Orascom has very deep pockets and can afford to give you all these free calls FOR NOW until they get what they want.

  17. The scariest thing is that, had Telecel not blown the whistle Econet was prepared to quietly manipulate the connectivity so that Telecel appears to offer poor service at the expense of a lot of people who wish to make a simple phone call. No press release, no disconnection just well calculated service disruptions. At the same time they have not disrupted the other direction of the same connection. Meanwhile POTRAZ is somewhere behind some bush having a threesome with incompetence and irrelevance.

    1. Thats a very good point – if they were genuinely “acting for right” then surely they would have come out said so beforehand.

  18. Econet do not have a strong legal argument based on the 1997 court order cancelling the licence. This because of the doctrine of estoppel. The acted as if Telecel was duly licenced for 15 years. Estoppel is A legal principle that bars a party from denying or alleging a certain fact owing to that party’s previous conduct, allegation, or
    denial. The rationale behind estoppel is to prevent injustice owing to inconsistency or Fraud.

    As concerns the denial of service because Telecel licence has expired then. Potraz has indicated that “Telecel continues to meet all requirements and continues to operate as
    usual. The process for renewal of Telecel’s licence is underway and we
    expect this matter to be completed soon,” Mr Mandimika said. This was last week. Econet cannot assume the role of regulator.

    1. 1) business is business even when u operate a council licensed tuck shop u wouldn’t want to see an unlicensed guy opening one next to u and starts by giving free bread.

      2) if the law says so it has to be so. if it says u cant do business with uncircumcised Philippines then u shouldn’t. telecel should give to Cesar what is Cesar’s

      3) in business the only moral thing is to make profit legally. but econet is so moral to the extent that they even pay school fees for orphans they pay pastors salaries thats morality to me. i haven’t heard of telecel’s corporate social responsibility.

      4) telecel is the one that has changed the playing field by offering free bread when they have not paid council license fees.

      5) telecel technically has the right to refuse to pay econet interconnection fees because the agreement that was signed with econet for those fees is null and void. as it stands telecel is a legal entity as a registered company but is a non entity on the telecoms side.

      6) politically telecel is not in compliance with the indeginization laws of this country.

      7) we should remember that econet got its initial license a year after telecel and netone got their licences and it didnt become big by offering free bread.

      i go with econet coz i know 2% of what i use goes to charity and thats moral

      1. even Econet themselves have not paid the full license amount but jus had their 20 year payment plan, ECONET cannot assume the role of the regulator to determine who is legal and an illegal operator. They are going to be fined heavily for their arrogance

          1. re read my post ndepapi pandanyora kuti havana chavakabhadhara? i said they did not pay the full amount its very clear in my post wani, havana kusingirwa kubhadhara yese this year that is their discretion whether they want to finish this year or next year or whenever as long as its within 20 years. that is the license condition

            1. if we agree that econet has paid usd85 million and telecel is yet to pay a zar1 the in business sense we are together

              1. Business or not, Econet cannot be regulator. They are behaving like a player and ref. They cannot issue red cards in a game when they are a player. POTRAZ’s job is to do that. This is something I cannot defend Econet for doing though I have supported them from day one.

  19. Econet is not even ashamed of what it says. if it was acting in accordance with the law, then it was suppose to disconnect all of telecel connection not to allow its subscribers to call telecel was not giving the same opportunity for telecel customers to call econet. In fact, if econet is saying its obliged by law to disconnect telecel hence it should be fined for not doing so completely since 2 june 2013.

  20. Econet is not even ashamed of what it says. if it was acting in accordance with the law, then it was suppose to disconnect all of telecel connection not to allow its subscribers to call telecel whilst not giving the same opportunity for telecel customers to call econet. In fact, if econet is saying its obliged by law to disconnect telecel hence it should be fined for not doing so completely since 2 june 2013.

    1. benny: with the way telecommunications work its only telecel that can stop econet customers from calling telecel. in the same manner Econert disconnected telecel.

  21. Telecel made the blunder of rushing to the press accusing Econet of sabotage and dirtying its name, they should have done a consultation with Econet first mayb they cld hv resolved, now Econet has found a loophole and will use it to their advantage. The press doesnt solve issues it only intensifies issues

  22. My question is why are POTRAZ & the Competitions Commission mum on the issue?

  23. I wonder if Econet has also stopped or wont honor the inter connection fees of the calls from it’s network to telecel, also I would have thought if econet felt so strongly why wait for a promotion from telecel in order to act on telecel’s non compliance. Telecel is part of a company much bigger than econet as a group so it’s not really about not paying the licence rather who locally can afford to purchase Telecel shares to comply with indigenisation. Mind you the person at the fore front of the tribulation experienced by econet doesn’t reside in the country but has since left the company to be run by others who now cling onto statements on events they didn’t start.

  24. All things said and done , Telecel will pay up for their license and we await to hear what will be Econet’s next excuse. They dont want competition.I can spill more beans here.But for professional reasons I wont.Any one from Econet dare me in here on their anti-competitive behaviour ?

    1. register fist baba then econet can talk to you as it stands Telecel is just a non entity at law in the telecommunications industry

    2. Econet is the Regulator in this country if you didn’t know. They can disconnect other users, dig up other competitors fiber cable and do all sorts and NO ONE DOES ANYTHING. The story should now read…The Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, ECONET, has disconnected Telecel….

  25. The answer to all these problems is POTRAZ. POTRAZ is that big black 50kg Bulldog with no teeth. Never had teeth and I doubt if they’ll ever grow. ECONET is actually the regulator in this country. How does the regulator sit back and let an operator dictate the law? Ridiculous. And this is not a political issue, but a monopolistic tendency developing in this country. Rot must be stopped.

  26. Read between the lines people. This is not your typical David versus Goliath scenario. Econet know exactly the nature of their rival. Telecel are by no means a small fish network operator. Their parent company Orascom is a bigger company globally than Econet and have probably been bankrolling all these unbelievably cheap promos in order to gain market share. Ever wondered why NetOne seems unable to do similarly aggressive promos (subscriber revenues notwithstanding)? Like most other businesses, Econet are simply taking a strategic decision that serves to protect their interests against a deep-pocketed competitor who always plays the victim game (talk of a wolf in sheep’s clothing) to get ahead. Its called the Wal-Mart loss leader tactic. Things change quickly in this business and market positioning is everything. Econet are well aware that they can wake up to a whole new competitive landscape if they rest on their laurels. While any competition is a good thing, fair competition is better and Econet are well within their rights to act in the manner they have, whatever the moral arguments. This is business, unfortunately.

    1. “a deep-pocketed competitor who always plays the victim game”? I’d like to better understand your comment. Can you list examples of Telecel frequently playing the victim game?

  27. if econet is following the law why aren’t any of the other networks doing the same. and paying 100million+ licence is peanuts for them they can recover that in 6months if they really had 8 million active users. do the math.

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