Traditional leaders take Zim’s Econet to court
- Published on 16 October 2012
Two village chiefs in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo province have taken Econet Wireless to court for allegedly digging up human body remains at a ‘shrine’ where the company is building a base station.
However, Econet – through legal representatives from the Mtetwa and Nyambirai law firm – says the chiefs were well aware that the company was planning to set-up a base station at the said location.
The company is also claiming that it was authorised by a local authority in Masvingo to use the site for its base station.
“Excavation work started in 2011 and continued till November 2011 when it stopped after human remains in question were exposed,” Econet’s lawyers say in court papers.
Econet has refused to accept “that it is guilty of any offence”, although the two chiefs insist in their application that Econet should not use the site for its base station.
Judgement in the case, though, has been reserved after both parties provided their founding and opposing papers.
“Without regard for the authority of the traditional leaderships and contrary to the construction industry’s best practice and ethics, respondent (Econet) in 2011 intentionally destroyed parts of the sacred site, excavating tombs, scattering human remains, destroying relics and artifacts,” reads the chiefs’ founding affidavit.
Econet is rapidly expanding its network in Zimbabwe through setting up base stations and revamping its network. The company has said that it now has about 7.1 million subscribers on its network, and is eyeing to significantly boost network user numbers in the next few months.
The company’s rapid expansion, however, has put it under the spotlight.
Earlier this year, a group of residents in Harare accused the company of setting up base stations without the residents being given the right to object, as is required by Harare city by-laws.
The Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has also said that it will include new license provisions for the sharing of infrastructure such as base station towers when Econet and Telecel’s licenses are renewed next year.
Currently, Potraz does not have legal leeway to enforce this measure.