POTRAZ revokes Telecel Zim licence. Orders shut down within 30 days

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

News today is that Telecel Zimbabwe, the country’s 3rd largest mobile operator has been ordered to shut down by POTRAZ. The operating license of the company has apparently been revoked, following the disagreements they had with the government over the issue of payment of license fees and indigenisation. We have since confirmed from our sources in the industry that this is true.

A statement was released by POTRAZ last night:

The Telecel Zimbabwe licence has been cancelled. The cancellation is
with effect from 28 April 2015.
In order to facilitate the smooth switch of the Telecel Zimbabwe
network as well as ensuring that disruption is minimized, POTRAZ
concurrently issued a special licence to Telecel to continue providing
telecommunications services for a period of 30 days. During this
period, it is expected that Telecel Zimbabwe subscribers switch to
alternative networks and those with credits on the Telecash Mobile
money platform would make good their position.
A further 60 days (after switching off) has been given to Telecel
Zimbabwe to decommission their telecommunication equipment. It should
be underlined that the telecommunication equipment remains Telecel
Zimbabwe’s property. It is up to Telecel Zimbabwe to decide what to do
with the equipment.
In terms of Section 96 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act,
Telecel Zimbabwe may appeal to the Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier
Services should they be aggrieved by the decision of the Authority on
this matter

Our sources tell us that the Telecel’s indigenisation proposal, submitted to POTRAZ earlier this month, has been rejected by POTRAZ. The proposal was apparently that Vimpelcom transfer 11% of the company to Zimbabwean employees of the company. On the payment of the license fees, Vimpelcom is said to be up to date now.

Ofcourse, this doesn’t say that Telecel will actually shut down in 30 days. Such orders have happened before, but this is most serious the government has been to date about the Telecel issue. It will likely result in significant changes in ownership of the company. Still, whether the shutdown goes ahead or not, Telecel the business will be affected drastically by this. Subscribers will understandably be apprehensive and an exodus will likely result.

We will be getting more information and posting it here as we get it.

For more on how we got here please read the following:

22 Feb: Zim ICT Minister ‘cancels’ Telecel’s licence. Accuses Vimpelcom of speculation

23 Feb: The latest on Telecel’s prospective owners: Who is Native Telecoms?

24 Feb: We interview Supa Mandiwanzira on the Telecel licence cancellation

27 Feb: Makamba finally speaks on Telecel shareholding, announces move to resolve issue

1 Mar: Sale of Telecel to proceed as Makamba & co agree to 1997 shareholding

11 Mar: Telecel ordered to stop operations as license issue gets out of hand

13 Mar: We have an agreement, says Telecel, in response to license cancellation

31 Mar: Collapse of the Telecel deal: Lesson for Zim “investors” on greed & the bigger picture


  1. Anonymous

    You wonder what our government wants to do. It promises 2 million jobs but so far all i see is companies closing. 1000 telecel jobs gone and their ripple effects.

    1. Totenda

      So do you think they should operate without paying their taxes (license) ?

      1. bug

        the issue however is deeper than we all know and think, why did the government then rejected the Vimpel proposal of transfering 11% to employees?

        1. Totenda

          Are you familiar with the offer and its conditionalities?

      2. Kikidzai

        It is stated clearly above that Vimplcom considers itself in compliant on the licence fees issue as per agreed payment plan and that it has reduced its shareholding to the required 49% by giving Telecel staff the 11% or are staff not considered locals anymore. I smell a rat.

        1. Evans

          Of course they want the shares to themselves!

  2. Totenda

    We will thank after they have drunk for they spent the whole day with a mad person.

    I have seen the statement…does “Switch Of “and “Switch Off”mean the same thing to those other heroes at POTRAZ?

  3. The contriver

    Its a negotiating tactic. I fail to see why a government, which is desperate for cash would willingly forgo tax revenue (UST, VAT and Income tax). If not, government loses! Basic game theory

    I suspect Government simply want their own “approved partner” to get that stake. I wouldn’t be surprised if its government itself who wants the shareholder.

  4. Inini

    I will dump my telecel line the day it becomes useless in the meantime I will hold on and the exodus will not include me

  5. tellsomeone

    When elephants fight,it is the grass that suffers,when they make love it is also the grass that suffers, i feel sorry for the more than 1000 employees,what will become of them…In South Africa they are being burnt..back home this..aah..God help your people!

    1. Bhutsu Mutandarike

      Mwari ave nevana veZimbabwe, kusvika riinhi tichitambudzwa kudai?

  6. Adala

    &^*%$. They must close it and make way for those who are serious players not these gangsters and mafios

  7. Pro.Engineer

    if they cant pay the licence thats fine. what if the gvt waits for accumulation of the tax and after some time they claim their money by taking shares not by creating unemployment.

  8. Stash

    “but this is most serious the government has been to date about the Telecel issue” are you conflating government and Potraz? Its very dangerous if a regulator that is supposedly ‘independent’ gets described as government. And also, only in a silly country like this do you have a whole ‘government’ goes on a sustained campaign to close down hundreds of jobs, in a country that has over 80% unemployment. Ridiculous.

  9. Heeeeei

    It is a fact that the Government of Zimbabwe owes others including 100% indigenous companies $10 billion USD and growing!! It has been said that it is making token payments to the IMF of US$150,000 per month. Should the indigenous companies then switch off government, maybe starting with the whole ICT ministry followed by Mudede’s office, the Registrar of Companies etc.?

    Pink Floyd’s The Wall has the song “Is there anybody out there?” and I extend the question to government, not that I expect an answer from the arrogant Chefs especially those in the ICT ministry? Can we have a comment from Africom, whose services were also terminated by ZIMRA and given to TelOne? Is this ZIMASSET in action following on the heels of Mavhaire’s cancellation of the ZETDC’s Aggregators tender last year and giving it to Powertel with special instructions not to involve the private sector? All this points to the fact that our regulatory environment has been irreparably compromised and that is a cause of concern?

    1. nyasha

      “Can we have a comment from Africom, whose services were also terminated by ZIMRA and given to TelOne” Limbikani, is this true?

  10. Tifa

    Am a loyal Telecel subscriber and i will only stop using my line the day that i no longer have network on it and the company is truly closed!

  11. John

    There is stupidity and stupidity and our government is a classic case of that last one!

    Ofcourse Telecel could be better managed espeacially where payment of exceedingly high taxes and liscense fees. All the same in the big game of numbers that is our economy I think these russian chaps know zimbabwe needs telecel more than we need our own government.

    I’ll be keeping my telecel number going until, i pray not, it goes offline. But the villagers who came up with this decision have obvioulsy not been to school clearly!!!!!

    1. mwanamwana

      the villagers, like that one.

    2. Heeeeei

      @John, you are spot on. The village idiots and their village headman tell us they are educated but the proof is there that they are not?

  12. mwanamwana

    well who cares what Potraz has to say today, they do change their minds on regular basis esp if they deliver their message using the honourable minister of ICT who dances round issues, at least that is what is see happening in the media. Maybe this is how GVt want s to begin infrastructure sharing in Zim, coz if Telecel does shut down what will happen to the hardware that telecel has all over the country? And all those contracts that they have with hardware and software vendors?
    MAybe the Telecel employees should bid for the company themselves and find the funding to own the whole thing, kick out all the current shareholders coz they are playing business and not doing business….

  13. Craziness

    So news from the industry is that the mugabe’s want to take telecel and this has been orchestrated and scripted for a long time..just like our elections etc. the daughter of Angolan president is a white night and a cover for the mugabe’s and ‘she’ will get ownership of the company and all will be saved.

  14. maita

    Why is POTRAZ involved in indegenisation? Let Telecel pay its subscription and let it run its operations, those with fangs must not interfere. This is just a case of giving a dog a bad name to kill it.