Minister of ICT, Supa Mandiwanzira
Econet has been quoted in a Sunday Mail article as having called the Minister of ICT’s argument that the operator hadn’t paid its licence in full ludicrous and the “lack of appreciation of basic principles of finance and economics” the reason why some State-owned entities accrue debts without an intention to pay them.
In a recent hearing with Zimbabwe’s parliamentary committee for ICT, the Minister of ICT, Supa Mandiwanzira stated that Econet Wireless’ statements that it had paid its licence in full were a lie.
Mandiwanzira’s argument was that since Econet had paid part of its licence obligations through a clearance arrangement which offset debts it was owed by NetOne and TelOne – two state-owned telecoms operators, Econet hadn’t, in fact, paid its licence in full.
The Minister also said that since the debt was assumed by the State, the people of Zimbabwe were the ones who had paid for the licence. He also referred to the arrangement as an example of a fair playing field where privately owned enterprises like Econet can negotiate debt payment deals.
You can read Supa Mandiwanzira’s full statement on the issue here
Econet’s remarks come after a number of observers criticised Mandiwanzira‘s perspective on Econet’s failure to pay its licence. Instead of writing off a huge amount as a bad debt it’s practice for entities in Econet’s position to structure an arrangement to “monetise” the doubtful asset by using it to settle other obligations.