The High Court in Zimbabwe yesterday ruled that Telecel Zimbabwe can continue operating beyond the 30 days it was given by the government after the telecom regulator in the country said it had cancelled its licence.
The Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) said last week it had cancelled the mobile firm’s licence for failure to give majority shares to black Zimbabweans.
It also said the company had not paid its $137.5 million licence renewal fee but Telecel insists that it has standing agreements with the government to pay the amount in instalments.
Telecel then approached the high court to seek relief against the decision to have it cease operations within 30 days pending an appeal against the licence cancellation. Yesterday, Justice Nicholas Mathonsi said the 30 day period given by Potraz was unreasonable.
He granted an interdict in favour of Telecel Zimbabwe, which is majority owned by VimpelCom, through Telecel Globe.
The Empowerment Corporation, which brings together local business tycoons, owns the remaining 40% but the government wants locals to own up to 51% in line with indigenisation laws promulgated in 2007.
“The judge granted the application we were strenuously opposing. The net effect of Justice Mathonsi’s order is therefore that Telecel would be allowed to continue with its operations until such time the minister has determined its appeal,” said James Muzangaza, the legal representative for Potraz.
The third largest telco in Zimbabwe has since reportedly appealed to ICT minister, Supa Mandiwanzira, against the decision to cancel its licence by Potraz.
Mandiwanzira said early this week after a meeting with VimpelCom executives in Harare that Telecel Zimbabwe’s future was bright, with sources telling ITWeb Africa that Telecel now has to meet its regulatory and licence renewal obligations to stand a good chance of having the cancellation reversed.
Telecel Zimbabwe spokesperson, Francis Chimanda has also confirmed the ruling in favour of the relief the company was seeking.
He said the ruling strengthened faith in the justice delivery system in Zimbabwe, saying it was “prompt and fair”.
“High Court of Zimbabwe granted an interdict suspending the cancellation of the company’s licence to provide national cellular telecommunications services, pending Telecel Zimbabwe’s appeals on the matter. We are fully committed to working in Zimbabwe and further developing its telecommunications market,” said Chimanda.