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Telecel takes licence dispute to high court

Telecel takes licence dispute to high court.

Zimbabwe ICT minister, Supa Mandiwanzira says Telecel Zimbabwe has taken its dispute with the country's government over cancellation of its licence to the high court.

The company, just like the other two mobile companies in Zimbabwe - Econet Wireless and state run NetOne - has to pay $137.5 million for the renewal of its licence, with the licence tenure now extended to 20 years.

Last week government had cancelled Telecel Zim's operating licence, citing failure to fulfill its renewal fee obligations and also for not complying with empowerment policies that require locals to own majority shares in foreign owned companies.

Telecel also insists that the government had rejected its offer to sell 11% shares to its workers as a measure to comply with the requirements as its foreign shareholder, VimpelCom, still owns 60% of the company while 40% is owned by a consortium of local business people under the Empowerment Corporation vehicle.

Mandiwanzira told Zimbabwean parliamentarians yesterday, "Subsequent to that cancellation, Telecel Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd has taken the matter to the High Court of Zimbabwe where they are seeking an interdict to stop (Potraz) from implementing their order pending an appeal to the minister of Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services."

ITWeb Africa reported yesterday that Telecel Zim had received a reprieve to its bid to have the licence cancellation reversed after a meeting between Mandiwanzira and executives from VimpelCom. The high court in Harare will hear the case today.

ITWeb Africa has been informed by sources that the company has been told to meet its outstanding regulatory and indigenisation obligations first before it can ask for licence cancellation revocation.

Mandiwanzira, asked in parliament about the future of Telecel Zim's subscribers, employees and other stakeholders, said his ministry would "take into account the laws of this country, the circumstances of our economy, the employment situation, the subscribers and all those that are concerned" in determining a final decision.

"This is the framework allowed by the law for the minister to use in consideration of an appeal should it come to my desk," he said.

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