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Zimbabwe moves to privatise ailing telcos

Zimbabwe moves to privatise ailing telcos

Zimbabwe President Emerson Mnangagwa intends to cut state funding to parastatals, a move expected to fast-track the privatisation of beleaguered state-owned telcos.

Fixed phone and internet services telco TelOne and mobile operator NetOne have both been earmarked for privatisation.

And Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube has demanded that the companies be privatised in the next nine months.

"As part of Zimbabwe's Public Enterprise Reforms, I have set deadlines for privatisation for under-performing state owned enterprises and those earmarked for disposal -such as NetOne, TelOne and People's Own Savings Bank," said Ncube.

This week the Minister told delegates at Chatham House in London that in 2017, Zimbabwe spent approximately US$500 million "supporting enterprises that are struggling" and draining the fiscus.

According to regional media reports, other government departments owe TelOne large amounts in unsettled bills, while corruption allegations have beset NetOne.

"We want to move fast, we want to privatise eleven enterprises quickly. I have given some of them six months just to get on with it," Ncube said in his address to Chatham House. "Between the next six to nine months, I want to see progress and conclusion of some privatisation deals."

In April this year, TelOne, NetOne were classified under government companies that are earmarked for 'partial privatisation'.

Telecel Zimbabwe, in which the government has a majority stake after buying out VimpelCom, was also provisioned for partial privatisation.

Other Zimbabwean state owned telecom firms including ISPsZarnet, Powertel and Africom are to be merged.

The Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe will also be integrated.

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