I have no beef with Econet – Min. Mandiwanzira

By Daniel Chigundu

ICT Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira says he has no problems with the country’s biggest mobile network operator Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.

A few weeks ago Econet published a statement in the media alleging that Minister Mandiwanzira was biased towards state owned NetOne and Telecel adding that he should be removed labeling him as “bad for the industry”.

However appearing before a Parliamentary Committee on ICT, Postal and Courier Services, Minister Mandiwanzira said he has no issues with Econet and that he is going to ignore the attacks made towards him by the company.

“I have nothing personal with Econet in fact in my role as a minister, I must accept any abuse and I must not take it personally and I must respond professionally because my relationship with any of the entities is guided by the law, always guided by regulations and not guided by my personal feelings.

“So what you have highlighted in terms of what Econet said in its press statement were personal feeling by Econet as a business or by some individual within Econet and if I as a minister start concentrating on peoples personal feelings I would have lost the plot.

“We have a job to do, to grow the ICT sector in this country, to promote the telecommunications industry, so we will do everything and anything that we can do to promote Econet, to promote Telecel and to promote NetOne,” he said.

Mandiwanzira added that one of the reasons government has not opened up the telecommunication market to global giants in the sector has been to promote and protect the local indigenous industries.

He said if the sector were to be opened to such global giants in telecommunication business such as MTN, people will hear very little of Econet, Telecel and NetOne because they have the muscle to come and take over the entire market.

The ICT minister said they have done many things to protect and promote the local players and that it was unfair to brand him as biased and bad for the industry.

“I am just saying we have many considerations to support the local industry so anybody who stands up and say the minister is a minister of two companies owned by government is just being dishonest or being angry not because we have done anything wrong.

“But perhaps possibly we have undermined what interests they may have had which may not be connected to telecommunication. So I would say that the opinion of Econet or one of its major shareholder, was very political and could only be made by a policy maker in that organisation somebody on the board,” said Mandiwanzira.

Meanwhile, Minister Mandiwanzira has said it is his duty to ensure parastatals under his ministry are supported and are performing to expectations and that they are able to pay dividend to government, but has never undermined Econet while doing so.

He said his ministry will continue to support Econet because it is a tax in Zimbabwe employs Zimbabweans and was established by a Zimbabwean.

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