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Saturday, May 25th

Reprieve for Telecel Zimbabwe

Reprieve for Telecel Zim.

The worst could be over for Zimbabwe's third largest mobile operator, Telecel Zimbabwe, following a meeting between the country's ICT minister Supa Mandiwanzira and executives from VimpelCom, which concluded that telco speedily comply with licensing and indigenisation requirements.

Telecel Zim is battling to scramble out of the cancellation of its operating licence.

The Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) last week said it had given Telecel Zim 30 days to wind down its operations, citing failure to pay its licence fees on time and failure to speedily comply with contentious indigenisation laws.

Sources have told ITWeb Africa that Tuesday's meeting had cleared some of the hurdles that were sticking out and which had led to the dispute with the government.

There are now chances that Telecel Zim will honour its obligations after laying out a plan, which Mandiwanzira believes is workable, sources who have knowledge of yesterday's meeting said.

"It was a meeting that brightened the future for Telecel Zim. The minister said he wants time lines and proper plans and I think they agreed on the way forward; and as before, its now up to the company to act on its plans which include the time-frame for giving away 10% shares to black Zimbabweans," said an industry source.

Telecel Zim said in a statement on Tuesday that it was not in breach of licence renewal fee payments. It said its next installment payment was in the next few weeks after agreeing with Potraz to stagger the payments.

This is one of the areas that has been at the centre of the dispute between the government of Zimbabwe and Telecel Zim. Additionally, Telecel Zim has also been hit by claims that some of the minority shareholders are trying to lean on political connections to muscle out other shareholders.

But after the meeting, Mandiwanzira said it was unlikely that Telecel Zim will be closed down. He said the future of Telecel was "bright," confirming the meeting with executives from VimpelCom had at least yielded a way forward.

"It would appear the future of Telecel Zimbabwe is orange, its bright," he said on his Twitter account yesterday.

Employees at the company have also implored the government not to proceed with cancellation of the licence as they would be affected.

Telecel Zim has just below 2.5 million subscribers and also runs a mobile money platform, Telecash as well as a mobile insurance cover scheme, Telecare.

Executives at the company told ITWeb Africa that the dispute with the government over its licence cancellation was now being addressed by its major shareholder as well as the company's board.

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