Mandiwanzira is a liar: Econet

HARARE - Zimbabwe's largest mobile network operator, Econet, took the gloves off at the weekend, savaging embattled Information Communication Technology (ICT) minister Supa Mandiwanzira and bluntly accusing him of peddling barefaced lies regarding last week’s Internet data fiasco.

The unusually strong reaction to Mandiwanzira by the telecommunications giant came after Econet was incensed by what it said was the minister’s “dishonesty” regarding his purported directive to reverse the government’s ill-advised data increases of last week, which were announced by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), before it made a volte face in the wake of palpable public anger.

Mandiwanzira, who had earlier used micro-blogging site, Twitter, to announce to long-suffering Zimbabweans that he was out of the country enjoying himself on holiday, and that he FROM P1

would thus only be able to deal with the data fiasco upon his return at the end of the month, subsequently made a surprising somersault, issuing the statement that purported to reverse the data increases.

“Internet is now a key driver of economic growth – innovation, entrepreneurship and government service delivery. Internet access is at the centre of all development. It therefore follows that it must be accessible — physically and financially.

“I share and sympathise with concerns expressed by a multitude of Zimbabwean Internet users that the recently effected data prices are unparalleled and extortionist,” Mandiwanzira said, adding that he was therefore moving to suspend the new data tariffs with immediate effect.

However, Econet — which has previously been hammered by authorities for offering cheap products to its customers — immediately pointed out that all it had done during the fiasco was comply with Potraz and Mandiwanzira’s directive to implement the new price regime, and that as such, it was surprised by the minister’s accusations.

“This is false and misleading. Up to the time we did the roll back, no such reversal (as later announced by Mandiwanzira) had been communicated to us. Our reversal of the tariff increases followed a directive by our own board.

“The Regulatory Notice was subsequently withdrawn after we had already implemented our own measures.

“This duplicity by the minister is intended to discredit us in the eyes of our customers and in the eyes of government and to also portray the new director general of Potraz as incompetent,” Econet raged in a hard-hitting statement.

“We urge the government of Zimbabwe to move decisively against the capture of this all-important industry by an individual who has such inconsistency and duplicity.

“Since his (Mandiwanzira’s) appointment to this ministry, he has behaved as if he is the minister of the government-owned (telecom) entities alone, and has been relentlessly attacking us without just cause and reversing the gains that this sector has made over the years.

“On 12 January 2017, when it became clear that an exercise that was driven by the regulator with the full knowledge and participation of the minister and that we thought would contribute towards levelling the playing field was in fact a farce and a setup intended by the minister and our competitors who are under the minister’s control to portray the new director general of Potraz in a bad light and to portray Econet as a gluttonous and insensitive to the public, our board directed us to reverse the data tariff increases.

“We wrote and delivered a letter to Potraz on January 12, 2017 in which we indicated that we would revert to our old tariffs if the regulator did not ensure that all the operators complied with its regulatory notice by end of day January 12, 2017.

“To anticipate our reversal of the data tariff increases, the minister, who is supposed to be on leave published a notice in the press in which he claimed to have reversed the tariff increases,” Econet added.

The blue chip telecommunications firm said contrary to claims that it was gluttonous, it had instead run multiple promotions carrying competitive tariffs as part of rewarding its loyal customers.

However, these affordable promotions — such as the WIFI Inside promotion, the Free Wifi on prepaid data bundles promotion, the international voice bundles promotion, the SMS and Win promotion, and the usage based promotion — had been stopped by Potraz in July last year when the government came under pressure and as it battled angry ordinary citizens who were staging rolling protests.

“All these promotions had the effect of offering reduced data prices and free data in some instances to our loyal customers.

“We applied for an extension of these promotions. Our applications were declined on the basis that a new regulatory framework to govern promotions would be introduced in mid-August.

“This ban on promotions was implemented against a background of Regulatory concerns over the perceived abuse of social media that we were accused of contributing to through our low data tariffs,” Econet revealed in its statement.

Comments (11)

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g zzzbm - 15 January 2017

Netone we are coming for you...from unlimited to 80mbs data per week haaa #tajamuka

tony zarmani - 16 January 2017

So you say Mandiwanzira is a crook,&econet is not engurging in all underground tactics in order to profiteer

addmore gudo - 16 January 2017

be serious econet, even b4 this fallout with the minister your company does not offer better deals to the ordinary person, netone is better, they offer free text msg per $1, data bundles last for the period stated e.g one week , but enyu anopera b4 that stated period, yes you have the infrastructure but you are not people centred.

mukristu - 16 January 2017

econet best

Young Zimbo - 16 January 2017

NetOne is protected and they do not pay licence fees to the tune of $120million. Now they Supa is trying to force Econet to share infrastructure that it paid for under difficult condition with NetOne and Telec yet it was grudgingly given it's licence due to Mdhalawetu's intervention long after the establishment of the other 2 service providers. Up now we cannot pay ZESA through Econet due to ZANU's unmitigated hatred for Econet. Econet is not being treated like an equal coorperate citizen for no good reason

chivayo - 17 January 2017

Honestly, what do people expect from officials of a govt that denies rural voters the right of choice? Cuddly kisses? EW is a big obstacle to the strangulation of freedom that Zanu PF and its functionaries desire and stand for. I do hope though that EW reduces their data tariffs which, in my view, are a tad too high and to improve customer service which is pathetic. Remember the only friend EW had in govt was the late J Nkomo. Everyone else in govt was fighting them!!

Sagitarr - 17 January 2017

Bet you someone is after Strive's business

dkopd - 17 January 2017

ZANU PF THUGS

toyitomato - 18 January 2017

We are taking ZANU pf down come 2018. The playing ground for businesses is not level, it only favours politicians

Mentalist - 19 January 2017

I am not an Econet apologist but I BEG the Zimbabwean authorities to level the playing field. The wolves are out there to destroy and take over Econet. Government cannot be a referee and player at the same time. No one else pays licence fees. No one else pays Econet its inter-connector fees. I hope all three companies are paying Zimra, Portraz, Health Levy. In any caqse why is the levy on mobile phones and not beer and cigarretes. Zimbabwe lets open our eyes.

Takanaka - 25 January 2017

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