We paid our fees, Telecel insists

HARARE - Telecel Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (Telecel) insists that it has paid its licence renewal fees to the government, but was “let down” by one of its bankers in the remittance of the funds.

This comes amid reports that Zimbabwe’s second largest mobile operator – by subscriber base – had failed to honour its dues as agreed with the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ).

In addition to a statement confirming Telecel had entered into negotiations with the Harare administration for a phased payment of the fees and that it had engaged two banks to remit the cash, documents also show that the James Makamba-led company had instructed Metropolitan Bank (Metbank) to transfer $6 million to government, but the latter failed to execute the transaction.

“…we can confirm that Telecel, a long standing customer of Metbank, has a credit balance… with us. They have issued a payment instruction…. to transfer $6 000 000 in favour of the Ministry of Finance,” Felix Kumirai, the stricken bank’s executive director for investment banking, said in an August 09, 2013 letter addressed to the Finance ministry’s budgets principal director.

“While we would normally effect such a transfer instruction immediately upon request by our customer, we are currently unable to do so because of the prevailing liquidity constraints,” he said.

And in a follow-up letter to the Metbank fiasco, Telecel general manager Angeline Vere advised the government that the telecoms group was making frantic efforts to have the $6 million paid in an October 10 dispatch.

“We have engaged Metbank to register securities to cover the amount they (are) holding with a view of using such securities to raise the $6 million owed to you,” she said, adding they expected the process to be through by mid-November.

On the other hand, Telecel stressed yesterday that as far as it was concerned it was on course to fulfilling its obligations.

“The agreed fee for the renewal of the organisation’s licence was set at $137.5 million to cover the next 20 years. Telecel entered into negotiations… (resulting)… in an agreement with POTRAZ together with the… Ministry of Transport & Communications and the Finance ministry to pay the license fee over an agreed period with a deposit of $14 million being paid forthwith,” Vere said.

“Our records at hand will confirm that instructions to pay the deposit were immediately processed through our banks,” she added, stating further that “both banks (Metbank and another known commercial bank) had confirmed to regulatory, and ministry officials the obligation they have to Telecel to meet this commitment”.

In light of these revelations, the mobile operator suffered a “double whammy” when it encountered funding transmission challenges and Econet Wireless cut it off for operating as an unlicensed entity.

Meanwhile, the company says it has until December 2014 to pay for the second instalment or trance of the statutory fees.

Comments (1)

Go to tried and trusted banks. Barclays will process this at click of button. These Metbank, Kingdom, Allied, etc are waste of space

mafikizolo - 10 January 2014

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