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Point Of Correction: The Licences Kwese Is Applying For Are Sufficient BUT They Have Much To Explain…

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Douglas Mboweni Kwese Launch

We have just covered the fact that Kwese is applying for three broadcasting licences from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ). However, we implied and explicitly expressed that the licences they are applying for are not sufficient to cover their satellite broadcasting service. This is not true at all. One of the three licences they are applying for is totally sufficient for that.

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Content Distribution License

According to the BAZ  website (which appears to have been updated in the last few days), the content distribution licence is enough for Kwese. In fact the content distribution licence is the exact same one that Dr Dish has. It is the sole reason why Econet Media chose to partner Dr Dish on coming into Zimbabwe in the first place.

BAZ defines content distribution thus:

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content distribution service ” means a service provided by a content distributor comprising content aggregated  within and outside Zimbabwe that is made available in Zimbabwe with or without payment of a subscription fee and the reception is through satellite;

This says if Econet Media gets this licence then there won’t ever be a question whether they are operating legally or not in Zimbabwe. The same questions that their former partner has been raising. I have my own questions:

Question 1: Why Did Kwese Terminate Agreement With Dr Dish?

After going through the pains of structuring a deal with Dr Dish just so they could legally access the Zimbabwe market and then holding hands with Dr Dish to fight the cancellation of Dr Dish’s licence, Econet then just decides they don’t need their partner. That doesn’t sound right. The question is, did Econet enter into that relationship in good faith?

In response to our questions, Zack Wazara, a consultant at Econet Media said the agreement was terminated within the provisions of the contract itself. So whatever those provisions are, the question of good faith remains. Good faith is not about the letter of the agreement or the law, good faith is about transparency and the spirit with which you are engaging your partner.

Their partner obviously doesn’t feel like the bigger boys were ever sincere in partnering them. The Dr Dish guys feel used. No matter were your sympathies lie, you can’t ignore that nagging feeling that Econet Media used these guys and that they knew they were just using them right from the onset.

Question 2: Why Is Kwese Operating In Zimbabwe Right Now?

If Econet Media needed Dr Dish to access the Zimbabwe market because Dr Dish had (and still has) a content distribution license which Econet Media didn’t (and still doesn’t), then how come Kwese is still being broadcast in this market after the two parted ways? Was the license needed just for entry into the market otherwise once operating the license doesn’t matter?

But no, the license does matter because Econet Media is applying for it right now. Applying for  a license means you don’t have it and you need it. Before they get the license (we all know they are gonna get it) how are they able to keep broadcasting? Technically, actually not technically, Kwese is illegal right now and they have been illegal since November. That is of course unless there is some provision or loophole in the law that ace lawyers like Nyambirai are exploiting. If it is so, then that is the technicality not the generality of their situation right now.

Question 3: Do You Believe In Coincidence?

Kwese suddenly decides it does not need to have a licensed content distribution partner. A few weeks later, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe suddenly decides they want to invite applications for non spectrum licenses. Not so suddenly, Econet Media applies for the licenses advertised to be up for grabs.

To Be Clear, I Don’t Believe In Licenses

Econet zealots will be after my blood and leveling all kinds of accusations. I must say that I am actually very sympathetic to the Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Group and other Econet Global operations in Zimbabwe, they operate with the ground tilted 45° against them. This is why I am not too happy when they seem to be anything less than above board. I hate to believe that those that say power or money corrupts could be right. I can’t accept double standards and convenient moral blind spots from Econet.

I do think the whole broadcasting licensing thing is silly and was overtaken, in fact disrupted by technology a long time ago especially for non spectrum allocation licensing. Everyone right now kind of needs a license if BAZ were to get their way. However, being above reproach means submitting to the law no matter how backward or inconvenient or ridiculous.

Econet fought for their mobile operator license decades ago. That fight and subsequent victory ensures they remain the beloved underdogs in Zimbabwe no matter how big they get and how much they dominate the market. Good for them. BUT the principle behind that fight was to remain above board and to fight the unfair law with law. Strive Masiyiwa even says he refused to take the easy way out and accept the license via the back door just so the courts would make their ruling. That is principle.

This whole business of faking partnership to someone else just to get into a market and then going back on their word as soon as it’s convenient for them to do so is not the Econet of the mid nineties. More than that, Econet has actually bullied the authorities because they are big enough to do it and they have enough public sympathy to afford them leverage.

Retrospective Application Of The Law

By applying for the license whilst already operating without one, Econet Media is setting a very bad precedent and of course politicians are doing this with them. Politicians will not dare appear to be antagonizing the public darling, Econet especially in an election year. What do they do? They silently seek to fix the Kwese legal problem, BAZ issues an invitation, Kwese applies, Kwese gets licensed. What did you say Dr Dish?

The Process Problem However

When you look at the licensing procedure as laid out in the Broadcasting Services Act, you realise the process could take a minimum of a year or more realistically two years. So will Kwese be illegal for that long? Another problem, BAZ doesn’t have a board right now and licensing is an issue that only the board is mandated to handle. This may lengthen the process further.

Most probably a mere window dressing act will be carried out to make this whole licensing issue go away. I don’t like what that means for Econet. I would rather the licensing requirement be repealed maybe through a parliamentary process. The requirement is not necessary and ancient BUT as long as it remains the law Econet particularly has to respect it. They are probably the most influential entity in Zimbabwe, I expect nothing but sincerity in what they do.


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21 thoughts on “Point Of Correction: The Licences Kwese Is Applying For Are Sufficient BUT They Have Much To Explain…

  1. Brilliant analysis, Econet is a two faced company, they preach morality, but rarely practice it. I dont believe in concidences either, EVERY Econet Partnership ends up in court, with Econet Defending, why?

  2. “By applying for the license whilst already operating without one, Econet Media is setting a very bad precedent and of course politicians are doing this with them.”

    That precedent was set KUDHARA – remember Telecel and their licence woes before Govt bought them? Don’t put it on Econet now when this is a pretty common way of doing business – why do we suddenly feel the need to be so excessively bureaucratic. When you show that you are putting reasonable effort to get the proper paperwork it’s sometimes okay in many different areas and the law will recognise that as valid – just the same kana unechikwereti ne ZESA you are legally meant to be CUT OFF but they let you continue to use more magetsi while you pay off what’s outstanding.

    1. I beg to differ. There maybe a Zimbabwean precedent set but Econet has set a precedent for itself for their own internal culture. Morale high ground is a big and important part of their brand and they must protect it at all cost, it is more precious than access to any market let alone the Zim market. A good name is more precious than silver or gold. That is the Bible not me. The Bible is a very big part of their identity and brand
      The ZESA analogy you gave breaks down because Econet Media did not have licensing requirements change on them as what happens with capitalisation thresholds for financial institutions sometimes. Yes if that were the case then they would have been given leeway on time to comply. They were complaint and they changed what made them compliant.

  3. Dr dish deserves everything…. Till this saga did you even know they existed…. They were both using each other for benefit… Even now see dish is laughing all the way to the bank… He sold off… Hope did he get the license less investigate

    1. They should have been smarter yes but to say they deserve it is wrong. That is to say abaiwa ngaabude, that is street justice and very irresponsible

  4. Simple question for you didnt these guys have lawyers when they signed the agreement with econet hmmmm

    1. That is my point exactly. Good faith on Econet’s part is not to cunningly deceive someone who is considering you a partner just because you have a superior legal team, more money and more political leverage. That doesn’t become right because they are Econet or because their partner was non the wiser

    1. They say it themselves. They identify themselves as a Christian company. If you go to their events that position is always emphasised

  5. If Mr Dish had the license before it means
    1.He didn’t have the capacity to launch his own broadcasting services
    2.He could have become big headed in thinking Econet can’t do without him.
    Hence he could have been goal shifting

  6. The author’s attempts at moralizing Econet’s dealings with one Dr Dish in the absence of details of the relationship is intriguing. First and foremost Econet is a business and not some sort of “family of God” outfit living by “sermon on the mount” dictates. They are operating in challenging economic environment and under an outdated regulatory framework. It doesn’t mean they can break the law and get away with it. They just have to be stealth in navigating an environment their equals in other countries don’t face. Dr Dish had the license but probably didn’t have the means execute on it. That’s business.

    1. The author does not agree that morality are separate. The author does not agree to relativism where values are dependent on the environment. When it comes to values and principle, it doesn’t depend

  7. I am not sure if Tinashe Nyahasha is qualified to comment on this issue without really knowing what went on behind the scenes. From the looks of things, this could be a paid article from “we know who”. Your article is highly emotionally charged as if you work for Dr Dish or is it. And the way you are interacting with the commenting public leaves a lot to be desired. To some you are outright blunt to others you sound very defensive. My advice is, get the full details first from econet and Dr Dish on what went on behind the scenes before coming up with an opinionated piece that is veiled as preaching morality.

    1. I always interact with the people who comment on my articles as much as I have time to. The debate is always good and opinion is what drives debate.
      I will not comment on the being paid bit, check all articles linked to this and see how we have covered this story.
      Keep following the story you will get more details actually.
      I hope bunt doesn’t mean rude hey. If that’s the case I am very sorry, that is not the intention at all. The objective is debate

  8. And one more thing Tinashe Nyahasha, what makes you think that Dr Dish was walk the moral high ground as you try to put it saying “econet did not act in good faith”? What if tomorrow you wake up with some information that says it is actually Dr Dish who tried to arm-twist econet? You come back with another article titled-Point-Of-Correction-?

  9. None of you guys know the real reasons behind the decision to terminate the contract.Get the facts first before these lengthy analyses..don’t just feel sorry fo4 Dr Dish coz he is small.

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