Potraz just playing dirty politics – Shumba

TELEACCESS (Zimbabwe) (Pvt)’s chief executive says the cancellation of his operating licence by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) this week was politically motivated.



T face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>He said there was a grand political scheme to take the licence away from him.


Shumba said the government was cancelling the licence because they wanted to give it to “someone politically correct”.


Although denying that he was involved in the United People’s Movement (UPM), as earlier speculated, Shumba said he was being punished because of his political ambitions.


“They know that I have political ambitions so they want to take the licence so that they give it to someone neutral, someone they can control,” Shumba said.


He alleged that there was also tribal politics in the issue saying that: “Some people did not want someone from Masvingo (his home area) to operate a fixed network.”


He said there were also some ministers that were working to destroy him.

He however refused to name the ministers claiming that he feared a “massive backlash”.


He admitted that he was struggling to roll out the network but blamed macroeconomic conditions and what he called Potraz’s delaying tactics.


He told businessdigest yesterday that Potraz had delayed allocating TeleAccess numbering plan to roll out the network.


“They (Potraz) only gave me the numbering plan in October 2003 but they insist that I should have started operating in May the same year,” he said.


On economic problems, Shumba said under the current environment “only a criminal would have been able to start operating because there is no foreign currency”.


“What they are doing is equal to violation of property rights and it does not bode well for Zimbabwe to foreign investors.”


“The Zambezi Water Project, Tokwe Mukorsi dam, AirZim and Zisco are all stuck because of foreign currency problems. Who am I to get it?” quipped Shumba.


Shumba said Potraz had not clarified its policy on the gateway. He claims that Potraz was also yet to clarify some critical issues needed for him to start operating.


Shumba accused the regulatory authority of also playing political games to frustrate him out of the telecoms industry.


“They (Potraz) started giving me problems before the licence. They had to be forced by the cabinet to give me the licence.”


Potraz this week withdrew TeleAccess’s licence after the company failed to start providing phone services as scheduled. The company was awarded a licence on January 3 2003 and was supposed to start operating at the beginning of May the same year.


TeleAccess said they were planning to appeal against the decision. In a statement yesterday, the troubled telecoms company described Potraz’s notice informing the public on the cancellation of its licence as “misguided, malicious and mischievous”.


Observers say the pending appeal has set the stage for a legal dogfight between the company and the regulatory authority.


In the statement titled “Purported Cancellation of TeleAccess Licence”, the company urged the public to “disregard the Potraz notice with the contempt that it deserves and to wait for the finalisation of the appeal process”.


It said the cancellation did not have an effect on its operations and that it was “business as usual”.


TeleAccess said: “Therefore Potraz’s Public Notice (cancelling the licence) is intended to mislead the public that they have cancelled the TeleAccess licence, when they clearly know the legal process to be followed in an appeal.”


The Potraz notice is therefore invalid, said the statement.


This is not the first time that TeleAccess and Potraz have been at each other’s throats. A war of words has been going on between the two parties since TeleAccess failed to meet its May 1 2003 deadline after getting the licence in January the same year. There has been counter accusations between the TeleAccess chief executive, Daniel Shumba, and Potraz. – Staff Writer.