Strive Masiyiwa vs Zim Government Part 2: Strive has already won, license or not

Tinashe Nyahasha Avatar
TD Jakes with Strive Masiyiwa of, Econet

Deja vu. It’s decades later and the Zimbabwean government is again trying to block Strive Masiyiwa from achieving a dream. Again, the issue is the freedom to disseminate information and yet again there is the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars in profit at stake. This time the government of Zimbabwe is refusing to license Kwese, the satellite television service owned by Econet.

This is a battle that Strive Masiyiwa knows all too well and in a broad sense this is the battle that made him. The last episode started way back in 1993 and dragged on for more than half a decade. It ended with Strive Masiyiwa holding the license to operate a mobile network and Econet roared into life. However, I submit that Strive did not just win the license that fateful day, he got much more.

He got the highest form of brand endorsement. With the license, the Zimbabwe government also endorsed Masiyiwa as a true people’s champion, a guy who takes on the establishment and will not relent until he wins. Overnight Strive Masiyiwa became a global icon. The battle was like 27 years in custody for Nelson Mandela. People who go to Robben Island come back as heroes. Being a hero matters.

The Econet brand is founded on hero status. Even today, people are ready to be empathetic to Econet. They may have grievances that fill up volumes but they are at least slightly embarrassed to attack the company because Econet forever remains the David that defeated Goliath. In recent years though, Zimbabweans had started to realise that David had been going to the gym and he is now quite a Goliath himself. Disgruntlement against Econet for one reason or the other has been steadily growing.

Then comes the Zimbabwe government to the rescue. By their pronouncement last night, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe were reminding the people of Zimbabwe once again that Econet is really still a David in spite of the muscles and abs. The whole licensing of Kwese/Dr Dish or non thereof looks like nothing but silly bullying by the powers that be. They don’t care that the country is burning as long as they ease their paranoia about free communication. This then becomes a good story for the Econet brand.

They may be losing some potential revenue and the costs they had sunk in to prepare for the roll out of Kwese but I contend that they are gaining much more in the form of positive public opinion. No one cheers for the bully. To be honest, Zimbabwe might not be the most important market for Kwese to start with just as it is not the most important for Multichoice. Yes, it is not, ask any Multichoice executive you trust. Compared to Zambia, Zimbabwe is a baby when it comes to the number of subscribers and the average spend per subscriber. That is why Zambezi Magic, a channel that is supposedly for all SADC except for South Africa is really a Zambian channel in focus and feel besides the content itself.

So Econet temporarily loses a not so important market but instead gains the hearts of that market. I say temporarily because I don’t see this being permanent. Sooner or later Zimbabweans will get Kwese and they will probably like it and it will be another egg in the face for the government. Or is it a stone to the forehead for Goliath? It’s either the government will license Kwese or their partner or they will be ordered by the courts to do so (the courts can’t be relied upon though). Or Kwese will keep working on their internet tv offering and technological advancement will make it an affordable option for Zimbabweans in the near future and they will just get Kwese over the internet.

Seeing that BAZ reads Techzim articles the way they do (they quoted our article title verbatim) they are probably scratching heads already trying to figure out how to arrest IPTV (internet tv). They can’t. To speak to the horse directly (horse’s ears if there’s such a thing): hey BAZ, you can’t stop the internet. The access economy that involves permits, licenses and the rest is dying and in it’s place is the Broadband Economy. The internet has brought truer democracy than anything else over the last hundred years.

Anyhow, let’s tune and enjoy the drama: Strive Masiiwa vs Zim gvt Part 2.



  1. vusa

    What I can assure you is that the God that Strive Masiywa will prevail.

  2. The Oathkeeper

    Bravo! Bravo! Nice article. This one should be stared!

  3. Nyasha Mupaso

    Excellent piece,

  4. Intrigued

    I think econet should just zero rate kwese that way they got two things… One much needed exposure and two BAZ will realize they losing millions in licensing fees… Win win… Probably 3 months is enough

    1. Tinashe Nyahasha

      Hmm you have great points there. I think this will work. BAZ may realise they are losing but may still be arrogant and stubborn- nyadzi chaidzo

  5. alfred nyambara

    Why should anybody to be a bootlicker,in order to be given a licence which in turn will employ the unemployed..disgusting

  6. Clive Chogugudza

    Gentleman lets be honest here, without doubt Strive Masiyiwa created a legacy with his econet brand and for me, he is an African hero when it comes to business eye but lets not forget, democracy or no democracy, every country do have its statutory instruments that govern that presides over government decisions. Now in this context, BAZ is the sole custodian and regulatory authority for broadcasting service in Zimbabwe. Let us not undermine their responsibility. The process of acquiring broadcasting license in Zimbabwe is clear, you will not just walk into a BAZ office and apply for one and get it. It does’nt work like that. The government will gazette and invite for applications when they feel they is need for the extra service. I have no idea which discretion does BAZ apply to qualify for the need. As much we feel the process is manipulated and influenced to favor a few, this is the standard procedure, and for now this has not happened. So granting Kwese broadcasting license without tendering for applications will be breach of laid out procedures many other aspiring operators will cry foul. As a matter of fact they are 4 more Zimbabwean operators who wanted to operate private Satellite TV networks but they could not get the license. So whichever the case maybe, the government has not yet tendered for the service and when they do so, i hope Kwese will also follow the same application process among other interested operators and the best should win. All the same I agree that with the current status call, a complete private operator will have deep an extra mile to be considered. So BAZ should not license Kwese TV because its econet family, no they can not do that, they should license Kwese on basis that Kwese meets the tender requirements and is the best provider ahead of other applicants, who would have responded to the invitation. So gentlemen for now BAZ has not invited aspiring operators. What we see now is mere speculation and rumors, certainly nothing substantive.

    1. Tafadzwa Chamisa

      Bureaucracy is a monkey . The enemy of progress. Have you wondered why anyone can call the Sheik of Dubai directly and speak their grievances???

    2. john

      Thnx for telling the truth . Let’s not just say what we do not even know about. Don’t mix politics n business.

    3. Olympus 593

      Don’t forget that MultiChoice is not licensed in Zimbabwe as well but they are operating. The unfortunate part is satellites have a foot print and I’m waiting to see when Zim Gvt will amass enough resources to build one huge umbrella to block Kwese TV signals

      1. Clive Chogugudza

        I am glad you said it all, Multichoice is not licensed to broadcast in Zimbabwe but they are operating under the state broadcaster. So considering the fact that a well established international brand DSTV could not secure a broadcasting license in Zim, how do then people expect a recently established Kwese to be granted that license just like that. The facts are there for everyone to see, the current BAZ system not conducive for private operators and it that is the cancer in broadcasting landscape. So Kwese has not been vindicted here, we are are vinficted. Like I said befere, if we really need to address the problem then people should focus on the national broadcasting statutes rather than this Kwese noise. If we really want solutions then we need cure the cancer not the symptons. As i see it most people just want Kwese to operate but will this be the solution.? Absolute No.

  7. Sagitarr

    Well, giving BAZ the benefit of the doubt is what we’re all forced to do under the circumstances, but the issues at stake are much bigger. BAZ is a creation of the Zimbabwe govt whose largest stakeholder is Zanu (RF). Elections are around the corner and most people are aware of the violence, coercion, blackmail and threats, perceived, implied and evident on the ground. This is a world Zanu (RF) would like to keep away from the world. After all, the one-party state proponents are trying very hard to pretend that they run a democratic govt. Up comes Kwese TV, a private station with no CIOs to filter out news prior to broadcasting to sanitise the orgy of violence. Its not gonna be easy for Kwese to be licensed in a hurry. Remember Dailynews, Newsday, Joy TV. Our so-called liberators do NOT really like us to be free, they want to determine and curtail our freedoms. Let’s see what pans out.

    1. Clive Chogugudza

      Yes thats true, everywhere you go the ruling part forms the government and the government governs the broadcasting systems of the country. So this is not confined to Zimbabwe only but it is a standard procedure all over the world. Even if MDC government is to come into power today, it will also control the broadcasting systems. As much as I want to see as many media players to be available for viewers to choose, let it be clear, Kwese is not the only private operator vying for that Zimbabwe TV market share. They are many more operators who have been there before Kwese but could not get the license, So I am really puzzled with the hype and campaign Kwese is receiving from bloggers and so forth. I now really suspect a third force scope behind the scope of the campaign.

      The fact is BAZ have not yet tendered for the license and Kwese has not yet been disqualified neither, So why the noise?. There seem to be a force behind the campaign because it does not make any logic at all. I think people should be more concerned with the procedure and transparency on the system of licensing. If they are flows then lets raise them or campaign for changes as opposed to one single operator. We want open airwaves and all will be providers must be included. We want to be freed from ZBC and DSTV monopoly and so Kwese should not come to replace that monopoly. If Zimbabweans feel that the legislation is wrong then the campaign must focus on changing or amending our broadcasting legislation. But what i read here is a dangerous campaign for just one operator which is wrong. Whats so special about one particular operator when many other individuals also want to provide the same service. My concern is why all the cries and noise before Kwese has been disqualified.

  8. moyoat00

    Let us thank God for the people we have and let’s truly appreciate them because l can tell you that it is very hurtful to be refused in your own nation of birth

  9. Isheunesu Tsiga

    With Kwese or no Kwese no one cares about ZBC anymore…Kwese is competing with Multichoice…ZBC are flattering themselves to think Kwese is competing with them

  10. pet’s

    once beaten twice doesn’t apply to this, body

  11. Hondo

    “The battle was like 27 years in custody for Nelson Mandela. People who go to Robben Island come back as heroes.” Thats heresy and blaspheme to humanity.

    However again while we applause the Masiyiwa victory and envisaged future conquest against the authorities lets not be swayed way from the truth that these same victors have become our greatest undoing.

    We are always desperate for a saviour.

  12. morris

    I think ma “kwese bundles” for streaming Kwese tv will do pending regularisation from the regulatory authority

  13. alfred nyambara

    Kwese on,,kwese off nobody will go to zbc,,our beloved leaders have multichoice,,in their homes and do not want it zbc either,,better to tune to the openview,,hd decoder as was our norm with wiztech

  14. alfred nyambara

    Kwese on or kwese off nobody fancy zbc,,even our beloved leaders have multichoice,,in their homes,,so we are all draining the much needed dollar to multichoice,,at least kwese actually creates employement,,tax to the government, ,and proudly zimbabwean..

  15. jabulani sibanda

    As the Hon.Prof J.Moyo ZBC sucks.Do people still watch it?I wonder