Most people are going about their business with a TGIF-infused confidence today but for Zimbabwe’s smallest mobile network operator by subscriber base trouble always seems to be around the corner. First Mutual is in the process of evicting Telecel from two of its sites due to failure to pay rentals to the tune of $40 843.
First Mutual is said to have approached the High Court in order to make Telecel settle the arrears and the MNO is yet to respond to the lawsuit. First Mutual Gweru said the lease agreement with Telecel was entered back in 2013 and would allow the telecoms company to rent out a base station at its premise whilst paying $1000 every month whilst a separate agreement between the two parties was made as far back as 2001 and this allowed Telecel to place another base station for $900 a month. First Mutual wants $21 557 and $18 135 for the Gweru and Harare properties respectively
First Mutual’s statements in the court read;
In breach of the parties agreement, the defendant (Telecel) failed to pay rentals and operating costs on due dates, resulting in the cancellation of the lease agreement and the lease also expired on July 31, 2018. In breach of the agreement, the defendant failed to pay rentals and operating costs on due dates, resulting in the cancellation of the lease agreement and the lease also expired on December 31, 2013.
Apart from the money First Mutual also wants to evict Telecel from both properties which may have a negative impact on Telecel’s network delivery if both sites still have base stations supporting the operators’ subscriber base which will be yet another blow for Telecel to contend with.
Telecel and its troubles
Unfortunately, this is another disaster to add to Telecel’s bad PR along with the company’s other troubles which include ownership wrangles that go back as far as 2015. To add insult to injury, Telecel is trailing NetOne and Econet by a huge margin when it comes to subscriber numbers and their mobile money product, TeleCash is nigh on (if not outright) irrelevant. How irrelevant you ask? Well, the last occasion when Telecel and mobile money had a positive buzz was when EcoCash allowed Telecel subscribers to register on the mobile money platform.
This all begs the question of how exactly the government will be able to get Telecel off its hands when the company has been a perpetual mess for the past few years. Why anyone would want to inherit this mess, clear these debts and then invest infrastructure. All this for a company with a mere 1.2 million subscribers. Where will the ROI come from? I could be missing something but that doesn’t change the real issue at hand. Telecel’s streak of bad luck (or bad decision making coming back to bite them) doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.