Telecel (well, Vimpelcom the majority owner) has just sent out the press release below as response to the order to shut operations. The release essentially says that the company takes it the announcements seriously and that they have an existing agreement with the government to comply with legalities within an agreed time frame. The agreement they are bringing up is the 7 year license payment plan made with government, which government now says it agency (POTRAZ) overstepped legal boundaries in signing.
In short, Telecel is telling the government that there’s a legal agreement and that they expect the government to not renege on the agreement just because its officers (as represented by POTRAZ) overstepped legal mandate. The government’s argument in its announcement this week was ofcourse that POTRAZ is heavily compromised but Telecel could still argue that is not their problem.
On the POTRAZ end, heads have likely already started rolling.
Here’s the full statement:
Telecel Zimbabwe has taken the government’s recent announcement on its licensing and shareholding non-compliance, very seriously. Our shareholders are engaging with relevant stakeholders and are working closely and tirelessly with all key authorities to find a lasting solution to the issue.
We remain fully committed to Zimbabwe and to working with the government in order to comply with all legal and regulatory requirements within the agreed time frame. Telecel Zimbabwe takes very seriously its legal, financial, operational and social responsibilities.
Telecel serves over 2 million customers in Zimbabwe and is a fully paid-up abiding tax contributor. We have invested an estimated $237 million into the country’s mobile infrastructure since inception in 1998. Currently, we employ over 1,000 permanent and contract employees.
In addition, Telecel contributes $700,000 annually through its on-going CSR program, which is aimed at making a difference in the lives of various Zimbabwean communities. We have been, and remain, supportive to the continued development of the country, including ensuring the universal access to mobile communications services by all people at affordable prices.
Telecel would like to thank our valued customers, business partners, stakeholders, employees and the Zimbabwean public in general for their continued support.
The Vimpelcom statement comes as a government minister, Professor Jonathan Moyo said through his Twitter earlier today that Telecel “has not been shut down as such.” and that this is about finding ways to make them comply.
@morrisAmaru Telecel has not been shut down as such. It’s about finding business ways for the company to be in compliance with the law.
— Prof Jonathan Moyo (@ProfJNMoyo) March 13, 2015
Telecel, in the meantime, remains operational two days after apparently being given an order to shut down, a sign the matter, for government especially, is more complicated than meets the eye.