14 Feb Zimbabwe: Minister faces grilling over US$40m Telecel investment
Zimbabwe’s Minister of ICT and Cyber Security Supa Mandiwanzira and a lawmaker in the opposition have clashed over the government’s decision to invest US$40 million in Telecel Zimbabwe, the country’s third largest operator after Econet and NetOne.
Mandiwanzira faced tough questions from the lawmaker when he appeared before parliament to explain the decision.
MDC-T lawmaker James Maridadi accused the government of investing in the company using the Universal Services Fund (USF) in order to later resell the firm for a profit.
“We need to read and understand the constitution of the USF and whether it allows the minister discretion to use the funds in such a manner,” Maridadi said.
But Mandiwanzira said the move was necessary to save jobs at the company amid indications that the operator faces collapse.
He said it was not unusual for USF to be used for such purposes as the government has previously diverted some money from the Fund for investment in other companies.
“The decision was lawful and common around the world,” Mandiwanzira said.
The USF is managed by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) and was established to help finance the extension of communication networks, specifically to reach marginalised communities in rural areas.
Mandiwanzira added that Telecel Zimbabwe still requires between US$30 million and US$100 million to become viable and competitive.
Source: IT Web Africa