Court okays 6th mobile telephone licence

HARARE - Ex-Zanu PF legislator Great Makaya has won a right to run a telecommunications venture, which means Zimbabwe can have a sixth data and mobile operator.

This comes as the 65 year-old businessman had approached the High Court to restore his Information Media Investments (Private) Limited (IMI) licence annulled by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) 10 years ago.

In a ruling yesterday, High court Judge Francis Bere reinstated the licence, in a development which may see the entry of another telecoms player in the Zimbabwean market.

In his application, Makaya had mainly argued that his company had been granted a 25-year licence by Chenhamho Chimutengwende’s then Information ministry in 1998 and he had even entered discussions with France’s Alcatel to roll out a network through its Global Star division.

However, the project failed to take off after the European technology giant withdrew its technical and financial support when the European Union (EU) imposed a travel and asset freeze on President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle.

Makaya says he had searched for partners for a decade without joy, as there were no individuals or companies willing to partner him due to the embargo.

“From 1999 until early 2009, the applicant searched far and wide on every continent for a financial and technical partner to provide capital and requisite technology.

“The prospective partners which applicant courted all declined on the basis of the imposed economic sanctions," said Makaya.

He said he only secured a Korean company as a partner in 2009 to fund the telecommunications project.

The Asian business company indicated that it was willing to invest but was not willing to do so unless it received a confirmation of the validity of his telecommunications licence.

Potraz informed Makaya that his licence had expired after he failed to regularise it within the stipulated deadline of April 2002, when all telecommunications licence holders had been called upon to do so by the regulator.

Makaya said he had made several failed appeals to Communications minister Nicholas Goche to review Potraz’s decision to cancel the licence.

The project, he said, had the potential of generating over 1 000 jobs, according to the businessman’s papers.

Makaya is seeking that his telecommunication licence he was issued in December 1998 be regarded valid.

Makaya’s lawyer Terence Mazhindu of Mugomeza and Mutezo law firm welcomed the ruling saying it was a “reasonable judgment and my client will now proceed with his telecommunication roll out programme.”

Potraz lawyer James Muzagazi said he can only comment after reading the full judgment.

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