Makaya rolls out telephone project

HARARE - Former Zanu PF legislator Great Makaya says he has started a roll-out programme to run his telecommunication venture.

Makaya is expected to meet with his Asian partners likely to jet into the country next week to facilitate discussions with telecommunications regulator, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).

“We have to start negotiations with Potraz on the registration process and interconnection. This is a process which will run into 2013. I am now ready to start the operations,” said Makaya.

“I will have a capacity to employ over 1 000 people and this project will benefit the economy, and will generate a lot of revenue for the country. We shall also be offering competitive tariff rates in the industry.”

High court judge Francis Bere last week Friday relicensed Makaya’s telecommunication company, Information Media Investments Private Limited (Imi), whose licence had been annulled by Potraz 10 years ago.

Makaya had approached the court seeking restoration of the telecommunication licence.

In his ruling, Bere stated that Imi had secured a partner and was in a position to implement the telecommunications project.

Makaya denied that he was a beneficiary of political patronage or playing front for powerful politicians.
“I am my own man. I did not have any political backing when I started this project, and this is why I went to court to obtain a licence.

"I have knowledge and capacity to run telecommunications as I have PhD in telecommunications,” said Makaya.

He also said he wanted to normalise his relations with Potraz and minister of Communications Nicolas Goche, with whom he had been locked in a legal battle for the past four years over the licence issue.

“My wish is to have a professional relationship with them so that we can start working together to implement this project.

‘‘I know that we have been in courts but my wish is to move on as time for battle is over. Let us start working together,” he said.

Makaya was granted a telecommunication licence valid for 25 years by Chenhamo Chimutengwende, then Information minister, in 1998.

Earlier he had 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 Europe Union (EU) imposed a travel and asset freeze on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle.

Makaya says he had searched for a partner for a decade, until he secured a Korean company in 2009 to fund telecommunications project.

In his judgment, Bere stated that Imi must be allowed to operate its telephone network.

“There is undisputed evidence that applicant (Imi) has secured a partner and is now in a position to implement the project whose downstream benefits to this country cannot be emphasised,” said Bere.

“Evidence abounds that on December 18, 1998 the applicant was issued with a telecommunications licence by the first respondent (Potraz).

The applicant has over the years struggled to secure a reliable partner and there is no evidence to suggest that the delay was occasioned by the applicant,” the judge said.

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