Mandiwanzira responds to Econet, advises operator to stick to business & take responsibility for milking subscribers

Nigel Gambanga Avatar
Minister of ICT, Zimbabwean cabinet, Might Movies, ZiFM, AB Communications

Supa Mandiwanzira

As expected the Minister of ICT, Supa Mandiwanzira has responded to the strongly worded statement issued by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe regarding its position on the adjustment of mobile data tariffs.

The mobile operator accused Supa Mandiwanzira of duplicity, saying that the Minister hadn’t given a directive to reduce the tariffs but that Econet’s own board had directed it to do so.

Mandiwanzira, in response, has advised Econet to stay away from politics and stick to business. He also urged Econet to take responsibility for leading in the push for higher tariffs and to explain to its subscribers why its tariffs were higher than the prices set by POTRAZ in the first place.

The full statement is available below.

Statement in Response to Econet Statement

I have noted a public statement by Econet Wireless which is highly political and defamatory. The political undertones of the statement, which takes a dig at the Ministry of ICT, Postal & Courier Services and myself, are alarming. I urge the company to stay away from politics and stick to its core mandate of business.

Rather than attack the minister and the Govt, it is advisable that Econet should address concerns by their subscribers who are and have been losing money through seemingly fraudulent billing that makes data credit disappear even when subscribers have not used it. These complaints have come to my office, Potraz and are widely shared on social media.

It may also be in their best interests to explain to their subscribers why their new tariffs were far higher than the floor price which they claim to have been complying to.

Econet must accept that they took the lead in determining the recent price hikes and records of meetings show. In fact, had it not been for Potraz, Econet wanted to charge far much more than the tariffs they eventually implemented before the ministry intervened. Documentary evidence is available to prove this.

I would also like to advise that instead of issuing statements attacking Government and my person, the company must take responsibility for its active role in seeking to draw more revenue from its subscribers, details of which are now public knowledge.It is also on record that Econet top management have been to my office, not only once, pleading that I do not approve proposals to decrease tariffs and that they be increased instead because their business was suffering and on the verge of being called out by European Banks from which they have received loans.

I shall not respond to the libelous allegations made against me and the ministry as doing so will give credibility to the unfounded claims being raised by Econet. Responding would also serve to divert attention from the fact that attempts to hide behind a finger have been exposed.

I must categorically state that the Ministry is not going to be deterred or bullied in its efforts to protect the consumer and also make broadband prices affordable.

I strongly advise Econet to use the correct channels of communication should they have genuine concerns against the regulator, the ministry or against myself. Officials at Econet and their associate companies will be the first to admit that I have always kept an open door policy. I have always made myself available when they want meetings and I have invited them to all my public events.

I remain available to address any of their concerns outside of the public domain – which is a much more appropriate way to conduct business.

Issued by: Hon Supa Collins Mandiwanzira, MP
Minister of ICT, Postal & Courier Services

14 January 2017


  1. Mhofu

    Interestingly the minister has just skirted around the issue of licences, have Telecel and Netone paid their licences! They haven’t, what are you doing to make them pay….Econet would want to recoup what they paid…if they paid in full ….I feel for them

  2. Richard

    If Econet has issues with the Minister, Gvt or Potraz, by all means engage with those parties and be as combative as u want. Just dont punish the customers in turn. Reading between the lines all the article related to this issue. It seems Econet was the operator that agitated for these price floors. The matter wasnt conclusively resolved btwn the operators and Potraz. Econet then somehow managed to persuade the director-general of Potraz to announce the price floors as a regulation in effect. Within no time Econet had implemented the price floors even raising data tariffs to levels much higher than the said price floor. Come on guys, that is just unethical. Econet is trying to manipulate the entire telecom industry into some sort of collusive cartel where prices are agreed at industry level leaving subscribers with no choice. Then when they fail they throw up the victim card. Any consumer who defends this behavior really doesnt know what is in his/her best interests.
    With regards to licenses Econet should mind it’s own business. They should not speculate about other operators licenses. Netone is due to pay it’s license fees this year.

    1. Man Fidza

      you sound like an insider…..but definitely the way the other operators responded to the directive shows that it was not an unanimous decision because it was not readily embraced by other parties.I think it was an Econet show through out.As for the costs they should embrace infrastructure sharing and negotiate payment plans to whatever payments and avoid too much debt,i may have sounded too simplistic but as an outsider thats how i see it.

    2. follow

      kana usina license you should be off air

    3. The Observer

      Iwe ndiwe wataura rubbish manje and level yekufunga kwako draw draw na Stupat. Open your eyes and see, Telecel and Netone are operating illegally without licenses. There is selective application of the law right there. Seems econet is always looking down potraz’s firing barrel

    4. Dawn

      Econet were played. Had they not been greedy this would not have happened. I feel for them….Someone is looking for mileage here!

  3. Ndini Zvangu

    Aka kachanyanya kunakidza if Strive then announces kuti he wants to run for pres. But good entertainment so far, even though statement raminister feels weak because vari kutobuda pachena kuti vari kuita zvekutiza mibvunzo.

  4. Sokk

    Hon Mandiwanzira it is clear u are draging the Gvt into your personal fight with Econet. Respond to the issues raised by Econet on Licencing, on who directed e reversal to old tartiffs. We all know that Econet never sent you a congratulationary message when you assumed office n from then on you declared war

    1. Symon

      plus mnster ahwana kupihwa chekumusana

  5. Chief

    Econet is a cult urs followers blindly follow it and always blame the government econet saw potraz’s tarriff increase as an opportunity to milk its blind stupid idiotically loyal subscribers as it has always done then when it faced public outrage it blamed the government as it has always done and its followers still support it as they have always done next time I think you econet groupies should just shutup and pay

  6. Thomas Matanha

    I don’t see how some people are failing to see what’s what is obvious.

    A company that pushes Portraz for a price floor of 5c/ MB on the basis of viability (whilst posting profit of 40 million dollars).

    The same company sends a press release trying to blame Portraz for high data charges they are charging yet they have increased to 10c/mb (5 times the new floor limit).

    What many also don’t know is that Econet has over 10 years gone through 3 expansion phases which each had 10 years payback period. They have however consistently achieved payback in 2 to 3 years instead of 10 . This shows the over pricing they are committing.

    But they want to blame Portraz. No siree we are not stupid to the extent that we can’t see the truth

    1. Macd Chip

      If potraz was so concerned and wanted to protect you, why didnt they set maximum price a telco can charge?

      It is you who is failing to see the gvt’s hand in all this. They are suppose to protect you, but they are the one entertaing wolves, they direct the wolves to your house. When you get bitten by the same wolves and cry for help, Mandiwanzira come running and wants to be seen as saving you from wolves.

      Gvt is causing all this mess!! No minister must be thanked for anything, it is them through their ministries are directing and overseeing our suffering

      1. Chief

        Lin which country do they set a maximum charge on data if i may ask

        1. Macd Chip

          They shouldnt be there in the first place!

    2. David

      The issue is not as simple as you see it.

      Have Telecel & NetOne paid their 20yr licences? Econet recently forked +/-$100m cash for this licence.

  7. Macd Chip

    Gvt is causing our suffering and Mandiwanzira wants us to see him as a hero? Potraz banned cheaper bundles last year. Potraz invited MNOs to discuss minimum data charges NOT maximum.

    If the gvt is so concerned with the welfare of its people, why didnt they set maximum price telcos can charge? Its like setting a minimum speed limit, then when someone drives his car at maximum speed it can go, you arrest him for overspeeding.

    Mandiwanzira have no moral or legal ground to stand on and tell Econet to stay out of politics when it is his Ministry which is making political calculations and impose them on business.
    In the first place, gvt owns telco companies, it is gvt which needs to get out of business and focus on economy revival. Through Potraz, it can still monitor and regulate them, but no, Mandiwanzira wants to be a player, referee and fòotball club owner all at the same time.

    Mandiwanzira cannot claim to be a saint when he sits quietly in both cabinet and parliament sessions noding in agreement when Chinamasa is imposing tax after tax on MNOs. Does he think Econet is going to use its own money to pay for that? Then he runs arround pretending to love the poor masses??

    Pointing accusing finger at Econet accusing them of disappearing airtime can gain you a few cheers at a political rally!
    But looking at the issue closely, he is exposing himself and gvt through Potraz that they have no clue nor do they have an answer to that. Telling us that our wounds are painfull doesnt make you a smart doctor is it? We are already in pain, what is your solution Dr Mandiwanzira?

    If gvt know how to prove that Econet is abusing its subscribers, they would by now have imposed a massive penalt on Econet

    Whereas Econet is greedy and ready to jump on every opportunity to make profit, our gvt is always ready to milk econet where ever it can.

    Maybe Econet’s greediness is caused by both high Capex and Opex. Capex in terms of loans you get to invest in its network expansion and upgrades. Then Opex because of huge network they have to keep it running.

  8. Richard

    By charging 5 times the floor price Econet was equally wrong. Econet , Potraz and the Ministry are two sides of the same coin. We all know Econet milks subscribers . Data disappears mysteriously even when it’s switched off. Who does not know of its Monopolistic tendencies. If Econet is being weighed down by Opex why then do they resist infrastructure sharing ? They thought they had an advantage but now with close to 2000 sites and dwindling revenues they are feeling pressure. Added to that they are finding it difficult to repay loans for network expansion. Those that continue to defend Econet are blinded and do not know what’s good for them. Two years back Econet lost a court battle in which they were fighting the same Potraz for lowering tariffs.. For the first three years Econet made huge profits and they thought the same would continue. Despite that Telecel took the lead in lowering the price of sim cards.. Econet plays dirty underground and most don’t know it because it quickly plays victim. It used to co
    nnive with the State Procurement Board to delay Netone tenders for network expansion . It wanted to remain a monopoly and drive other operators out of business.

    1. Macd Chip

      Do not hid behind Econet to cover up for NetOne’s corrupt business tendencies.

      To start with, who got license first to operate as MNO, was it Econet or NetOne?

      Econet is evil, just like an other business, but its a well run business.

      You say Econet charged 5 floor price, what if they hav charged the actual floor price, where you going to be happy? Its like asking a killer not to kill instantly but suck your blood slowly until you die.
      Potra+NetOne+Telecel= ICT Ministry then you have Econet all coming together to plot on charges!!

      Econet is evil to the core, which is every business around the world. That is where a properly suited well equiped regulator comes in and whip them into line.
      Disappearing data and airtime must be properly investigated. When l say investigated l dont mean Mandiwanzira calling Mboweni to discuss the issue over dinner at Merkles Hotel.
      I mean getting technical teams into Econet and tear apart their billing systems, without disturbing operations ofcourse!!
      Bt what have got? A regulator who floats a tender for QoS monitoring, and another tender for operating whatever will be installed.
      Evonet is clearly taking an opportunity knowing how clueless Potraz is technically, the day Potraz will put its house in order is the day Econet will stop because Econet knows heavy penalts will dished out to them.

      You talk of sharing infrastructure, but Mandiwanzira clearly stated that the reason for buying Telecel was so that gvt can form a big company and they will not need to share.
      Revisit Mandiwanzira’s statements and you get a picture that gvt wanted to rid on Econet’s infrastructure without paying hence the cover story of sharing.

      If the gvt is so concerned with level playing ground on infrastructure, they have accumulated millions on dollars through USF, where is the money or infrastructure, they can use that for sharing.
      You cannt tell me opening a little Info Centre in Masvingo can justify millions gvt is collecting.

      So Econet was also playing dirty encouraging Kangai to help himself at NetOne?

      Econet was also playing date when prices were being inflated at NetOne so that someone can have some of it?

      Econet also colluded with Megawatt to overcharge NetOne in consultation fees? Mind you, our minister seems to be involved with that company

      1. Richard

        That is all allegations and hearsay. Defending Econet as if one is on their payroll. Anyway let’s just say Econet is getting what they bargained for. They just must not be crybabies.

        1. Macd Chip

          who sounds to pay on payroll, you or me.

          Are you saying NetOne getting licence first is hearsay?

          Are you saying Kangai helping himself at NetOne is hearsay?

          Hapana hutsi hunopfungaira pasina moto!!

          I do not like Econet, but at least its well run and makes profit! When is NetOne going to make profit

          1. Richard

            Its funny you seem to acknowledge that Econet is evil and then go on to justify its evilness. U seem to say its fine if Econet overcharge its customers but when the government goes against Econet u symphathise with them. To me thats hypocrisy . You go on to speculate saying what if econet had charged 2 cents per mb but hard facts are there for u to digest. Its plain clear Econet charged 5 times the floor price and its clear Econet would not have charged a lower price coz of their appetite for profits and u defend their greediness and suffocating customers because evilness is everywhere in many business. U ae quiet happy to see them trample upon customers and other operators and when they get the same treatment u claim an unfair playing field. Econet itself tried to play regulator years back when it switched off Telecel and was hell bent on becoming a monopoly. The truth is the trio of Econet , gvt and potraz are all sides of the same coin. They commit different crimes and play the blame game. So none of the three should be crybabies. One should not have his cake and eat it too

            1. Macd Chip

              Your problem is the same problem our gvt have. The world is either black or white, you are either with them or with us mentality, you dont do that in business. And all the gvt run businesses in Zim are there to prove my point.

              Econet is evil, lm saying it! But who is more evil the one who created the weapon and ordered its use or the user forced to use the weapon?

              Gvt created floor prices and ordered telcos to use them! We DONT want any floor prices, they are evil, not beneficial to end users.

              Floor prices are a method to raise funds for Zanu just like they are doing with USF, nothing more nothing less. Telcos are the most heavily taxed, now gvt have run of names for tax there are trying the floor price trick!!

              If Econet were going to charge the recommended floor price, were you going to be happy?

              How can Econet switch off Telecel. In business, if you dont pay your bills, you get cut off, nothing sinister about that. But again, Telecel is another outfit of War Vets what do you expect, hence its now back home under government control

  9. opolopo

    mfana Macd Chip i always follow your comments and i love them..You always tell it as it is #thehardtruth..Big up!!! As much as i hate ECONET i wont blame them because they are there to make a profit…Our Zanu Pf govt is messed…sometimes i feel like Africans are cursed, everywhere its utter chaos!!

  10. Analyst

    Econet implemented the new prices to expose and fix POTRAZ and the gvt. POTRAZ and the gvt on the other hand allowed Econet to implement the new prices in an effort to expose and fix Econet. In the meantime who was suffering, subscribers.

    Politics aside, both Econet and POTRAZ were wrong.