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It seems Econet lied about Tengai ownership

Douglas Mboweni, Econet Zimbabwe CEO

When Tengai was launched, we were told that it isn’t an Econet company but owned in part by Strive Masiyiwa, the founder of Econet. A lot of people questioned these claims of independence, especially since the CEO of Tengai, James Gibson, is actually the head of e-commerce at the Econet Group.

There was also that the zero-rated access to its site for Econet subscribers which Tengai explained as a business arrangement struck by the startup with Econet. It turns out all this was a lie.

A shareholder contacted us and pointed out that at Econet’s recently held Annual General Meeting, the operator’s CEO, Douglas Mboweni, had expressly mentioned that Tengai is an Econet company and that the press had reported the matter incorrectly.

Shareholders were also told that a clarification would be issued. No such clarification has been issued to date. I hope the shareholders take note.

It might be easy to assume that there’s some confusion over what was said about the ownership structure of Tengai, but a room of press personnel surely couldn’t have been all wrong. If that is the case, and Tengai was being honest, then Econet is lying about this ownership issue.

We sought clarification from Econet and from Tengai over this ownership issue and almost a week later, there still hasn’t been any feedback or correction.

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58 thoughts on “It seems Econet lied about Tengai ownership

  1. Thanks for the updates regarding
    Now whomever is behind must tell us when it will be back online.

    Thank you for the updates really appriaciate it!
    God Bless

    1. As they say, there will always be haters. And the more you grow the more they hate; the more they hate the more you grow. In reality, most Econet haters are stuck in a poisonous mental prison of jealousy and self-doubt that blinds them to their own potentiality. Econet and it’s various businesses have constantly fought against all odds to succeed. I think the team behind tengai will ride this storm and prove that e – commerce has a positive future here in Zimbabwe!

  2. Nigel, there is no point in publishing a story if you still do not have facts.

    What stops me from thinking that you cooked up this story and spiced it with that shareholder imaginative?

    If indeed a shareholder(how do you know s/he is the real deal) did contacted you, without a recording or proof it still remains hearsay and worthless.

    1. y bother arguing with these guys, tht wont stop us from loving tengai. These guys simply hate competition from big teams, I believe one of then is linked to som affected ecommerc sites. Few days ago they published a story about dstv vod services, thts the proof tht this guys hates competition and want to be rich in less thn 4 years. I dont knw y techzim guys are so furious abot this , remember we r all humans who makes mistakes. I dnt see any problem in both sides either econet owns it or a shareholder owns it. hate wont give u a dent trust me. Mubvunzo uyo techzim team, dd anyone who owns a e-commerc site akambo tryer kuti site yake itwe zero rated before tengai yapo here? if yo anxa z no then swallow tht haterd bt kana pane akambozama m ready to sign pertition against econet

      1. You’re missing the point.
        – there’s corporate governance issue here. if a listed company lies about the ownership of one of its assets it’s a big issue. World over. not unique to Zim.
        – A mistake to lie?
        – No one should ask for zero rating. Nothing should be zero-rated. Basic net neutrality there.
        – But even if you didn’t care about net neutrality. Econet has 60+ market share, zero-rating its own assets that are not telecoms is an anti-trust issue too and the regulator should be concerned about that!

        1. It’s a very serious allegation to accuse someone of lying. I suggest you do some proper fact checking before you publish slanderous articles of this nature. We read techzim for factually based content, not for unqualified gossip. Get your facts straight and be responsible journalists! You owe it to your readership.

            1. That’s the problem when you only read the title. If you cared to read the article in full, you’ll see it states, “It turns out all this was a lie.” Techzim has taken unqualified gossip and published it as a fact. This is slanderous and destroys their journalistic credibility. I expect a full retraction of until they have qualified the story. That would be the responsible thing to do.

              1. Techzim aren’t responsible, so I wouldn’t get your hopes up tdk. They publish so much BS , it’s like walking through a mine – field to find the real facts behind any story.

              2. Not a problem.
                A retraction will come as soon as Econet retracts either of the two statements they made:
                – that is not an Econet Zimbabwe company
                – that Tengai is actually an Econet Zimbabwe company and that they had initially not told the truth.

        2. Sorry mate, but you can’t conclude that Econet lied. What you can conclude is one of Tengai or Econet lied. I would suspect that its was Tengai that lied. Better to check your facts before running a story. What happens when you find out that Econet actually do own Tengai???

          1. Lol. Why does anyone have to have lied? Have you never heard of corporate restructuring, M&A, buyouts? Maybe Econet has simply bought into tengai. I think people are far too quick to jump to fantastical, unqualified speculation. Just saying… I’d like to hear the full facts rather than hearsay.

          2. If we find out that Econet do own Tengai, then it would be clear that the head of Tengai, whose job title says he’s an Econet Wireless employe, lied.

    2. Whoah dude, come on, none of our content is ever cooked up! Lol.
      You’ve been following us long enough to know that we don’t operate like that, Macd Chip.
      We were contacted by a real shareholder (an active one who took note of the response to the Tengai issue because of an interest in Econet’s startup ventures, unlike other shareholders that weren’t tracking the Tengai issue) who only spoke off record.
      None of us qualify to be at the shareholders meeting so we couldn’t ask this ourselves, and the channels we took to verify this haven’t offered us a response.
      This story was us sharing the facts that are there right now, and letting people know what we know.

      1. You said:

        “… but a room of press personnel surely couldn’t have been all wrong…”

        Are you saying not even one of those press guys who attended can not give you a recording??

        But now you are saying:

        “..None of us qualify to be at the shareholders meeting so we couldn’t ask this ourselves..”

        Which is which now. How did Econet selected press guys on the first instance?

        I will continue to criticise you guys not because l hate you, but to make you guys better and mantain the standards. So do not take it personal.

        1. “… but a room of press personnel surely couldn’t have been all wrong…” – This was a reference to the launch of Tengai. We attended it and covered it, along with other members of the media. That’s where we got the information on ownership from Tengai,

          “..None of us qualify to be at the shareholders meeting so we couldn’t ask this ourselves..

          This was a reference to the annual general meeting, for shareholders. It’s not a press event.

          Cheers to criticism. No one is taking this personally.

  3. Why publish stories without any facts. Shoddy journalism again from techzim. Poor show.

    1. Who says they are journalists?

      They are not. They are tech enthusiasts and they self-publish, like you or I can. That isnt journalism. It is naive to think and expect them to behave as journalists.

      Not to say TechZim’s bad. They are technically NOT JOURNALISTS

      As for Econet’s “clarification” of not being under Tengai… I suspect it is a realisation of how they had erred on neutrality with a private company and how they will have to bring Tengai into the fold to justify zero-rating.

      It then ceases to be an issue of anti-competitive behaviour that was going to warrant action and favourable judgement.

      Its now a moral or ethical principle, with them having it within their rights to zero-rate their own services or that of a subsidiary.

      So, with it being an Econet company, then no one can demand fair treatment as a third-party

      1. if they own it, it’s less a net neutrality issue and more an anti-trust issue actually. And that’s still a competition and tariffs commission/POTRAZ job to regulate and ensure they play fairly.

        1. That isn’t correct, how can it be an anti trust issue if they own it. It is like asking them to charge themselves for EcoCash. Anti-Trust laws in the US are to do with monopolistic behaviour at the detriment of competition. One can easily go to Net One or Telecel and do their product so it is mischievous to infer monopoly when Econet are not a monopoly

          1. Read up on Google’s current antitrust woes with the EU. The gist of the allegation is Google search is unfairly giving preference to other Google properties (Maps, YouTube) ahead of competitors like Yelp & Vimeo.

        2. You are right, but I doubt there’s any definition of antitrust behaviour in our law. It may be still be defined under anti-competitiveness(which is the term we — in Zim — use).

          It is just a bit more difficult for competitors to bring a case on why they cannot have the same treatment as Econet gives its own subsidiary.

          It being Ecommerce also makes it a very difficult issue to litigate against, given that it’s relatively new in Zim and has no case history…

          (I’m not a lawyer, by the way)

          From my lay point of view, if Tengai is officially an Econet business/service/subsidiary, its a difficult battle to win VS the previous case where Tengai “was” a private company getting zero-rated preference.

          We cheered them on in their “Ecocash” “innovation” against those “lazy banks”

          Now the beast has turned round and bitten us…

  4. I really like these kind of updates and I am gutted and surprised with some here who saw this a work of haters. Someone was talking about facts? Please read the article again and comment! Whatever the issue is, we want to know the owners of it and how they were zero rated?

      1. In short I want investigative journalism and will prefer a juicy and well critiqued story not just a plain one sided boot-licking and praise -worshipping one!

        1. That’s what everyone wants. This story, however, lacks any investigative merit, is one – sided and is far from well critiqued. Facts over slanderous gossip is the name of the game. We can only hope that future articles learn from the obvious mistakes published in this one.

  5. I agree. This is an article without merit. No facts and just speculation isn’t journalism! Either way, who cares anyway. What we should care about is having good e-commerce services available to use in Zimbabwe. We’re currently lacking far behind in that regard! Look forward to seeing this tengai service. I think it has a lot of potential.

    1. Like someone here said, we arent actually journalists. An I say that sincerely. it’s just different. For journalism, you go to The Herald! They do it very well

  6. Theres always a fine line between getting the story out first and getting all the facts first and possibly being last to the party and to miss the scoop

    I respect that TechZim does try its hardest to verify all facts first where possible and tries to avoid sensationalist or gossip style headlines that are just click bait with no real substance. and i see nothing wrong with the article – its clear to say facts are still forthcoming and that relevant sources have yet to formally comment. I’ve seen worse from newspapers and what someone might technically call “journalists” before and still do today – if anything techzim writers or tech journalists often have higher levels of integrity than todays respected papers.

    that all said i’m pretty bored of this whole tengai saga now – one would hope that when the tengai website does come back it drives the necessary competition to improve them and so the net effect is of benefit to the end user regardless of zero rating or not zero rating

    1. Anthony, l support for its potential and what it might bring and change for Zim shopping and way of doing business.

      But there is no competition to talk about here. Unless if other providers like Telecel and Netone zero rate and other online e-commerce, then that is the only time we will start to talk and compare.

      Tengai is getting all the advantages associated with being owned or related to Econet, thats undisputed fact. Even if Econet where to zero rate other online websites, l will not trust them because behind the scenes you can apply QoS policies which can affect traffic in a desired manor.

        1. Why knock Econet just because the company is successful. You might be successful one day and decide to launch a new businesses using some of the capital you earnt. That is how companies grow and new products get to market.

    2. “that all said i’m pretty bored of this whole tengai saga now – one would hope that when the tengai website does come back it drives the necessary competition to improve them and so the net effect is of benefit to the end user regardless of zero rating or not zero rating”

      well said bro, it looks like people here dont understands the value and benefits of competition, and thts the reason y our industries evolves last in the whole world. Our e-commerce sites including tengai still hv some stages to master thts the reason y I gav tengai a nod of approbation ,check

  7. With EW now a giant that started from humble beginnings, most people prefer to close their minds to the lies & arrogance that have crept into it, especially on Corporate governance and Operational/Service level issues. EW is not the only entity guilty of this behaviour in Zim. Examples are plenty. I’ll pick the Telemetry issue – EW is a telemetry service provider (SP) for most tracking companies in Zim. and EW has now started to compete against its clients in delivering like service. How then does its client distinguish a QoS issue from sabotage? They indicated at their launch that they would not compete with their clients but it is obvious that they are. Vodacom tried this in SA and they left in shame. Then there is the barrage of unsolicited SMSs for EW which, when you try to opt out (of something you never opted for to begin with) it takes resilience to see it through (probably poor programming)…then this Tengai thing. Lastly, EW told us that employees had “voluntarily” agreed to have their pay reduced by 20% (some say 30%) a week later they were firing the very same workers. Not all of us are idiots, and admittedly wisdom is “case” sensitive. Corporate misdemeanours will catch up with them sooner or later…

    1. Have you ever heard about Amazon? Register with them and start selling something people like and buy in volumes and see how long it takes Amazon to start that same product at even cheaper price than yours.

      All capitalist businesses are vultures which pounces at every opportunity and exploits every weakness they find.

      If EW was so christian as claimed, why not give out free calls on sunday for example? Its jus a cover up.

      Having said, at the moment we do not have the luxury of punishing companies like EW doing based on trivial social responsibity issues.

      The economy is in bad shape and are spending a lot of time fighting a company investing in that economy!!

  8. I see the Econet Brigade has been unleaded on you Techzim guys! Don’t lose heart, it comes with territory of criticism “Emperor Econet” . Remember “The Source”.
    While I disagree with you on many other issues on this one you have my 100% support

    1. It’s a matter of reporting the facts. This article is factually vacuous – that is the issue! If you want to “100% support” poor journalistic practices then you deserve to remain an “ignored techie.” What we should care about is working together to foster a vibrant ecommerce ecosystem in Zimbabwe. Misguided attacks on those trying to achieve that goal are the problem. Econet, despite its detractors, are determined to widen Internet access and provide services that will benefit the lives of Zimbabweans. Sadly I don’t see many other businesses doing the same!

  9. this is rubbish. we have enough propaganda machines. really? you sir you need to be ethical in your conduct as a Journo!!!!!nxaa

  10. Pardon my ignorance but where was the trouble with EW starting Tengai and being clean about ownership. am i wrong to say MTN owns Lamundi+Jumia and where exactly is the difference between the two? except the liar liar on EWs part.

  11. Seems like those commenting know more about responsible journalism than those writing the article. Techzim – do us all a favour and properly investigate stories prior to publishing. You current methods only reveal poor journalism and a complete lack of judgement / professionalism. If you want to be taken seriously, smarten up your act. You provide a valuable service but of late it’s value has been lacking.

    1. agreed. have read some of the worst from that Victor Makand…all sensation no facts at all. like anything in zim – idea is good but execution poor!lol

  12. Well done Techzim. Surely there must be more to the fury and thunder of the avalanche commenting bashing you. Would they rather you dont raise this issue. Why be extremely angry…… and on whose behalf?

    1. Well done for what? Anyone can sensationalised news by publishing unqualified gossip. It’s the easiest trick in the book. I want facts not hearsay!

  13. Techzim I feel for you. You have courted the entire army of Econet bootlickers. Those who are quick to say ‘haters’ which is common in this third world country. We celebrate thievery, thuggery, corruption and mediocrity. If you question you are quickly labeled a hater. We have a long way to go…

    1. No one is hating on techzim nor are they licking the boots of Econet. This article simply lacks the responsible journalism I’ve come to expect from techzim. It is void of facts and reports unqualified gossip as truth. I’m sure even Nigel would agree this isn’t one of his best articles. In future, I hope techzim publish more thoughtful and properly investigated stories. They provide a great resource for all those interested in technology developments in Zimbabwe and long may that continue.

  14. The issues here is simple. If Econet and Tengai lied about the ownership structure then it’s a big problem. 1. If I am an econet shareholder i would feel hard done to know that there is misinformation in AGM’s. How would I be able to trust them going forward?

    1. Perhaps they just changed the ownership structure. Maybe Econet bought into the tengai business? As there was never an official press release, i guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  15. well ….. i think the word lied is a bit over the edge more like cooperate misrepresantation

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