Bid to oust Telecel duo flops

A BID by Wealth Creation (WC) to oust business moguls James Makamba and Jane Mutasa from the Telecel Zimbabwe board flopped when an annual general meeting (AGM) called by the consortium failed to materialise on Tuesday.

The failure to convene the meeting further complicated the investment vehicle’s bid to control the telecommunications company.
WC is an investment vehicle controlled by the Zimbabwe Wealth Creation and Empowerment Council (ZWCEC). ZWEC claims  control of a 40% stake in Telecel Zimbabwe through a number of investment vehicles founded by various empowerment groups and private businesses.

ZWCEC comprises the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union, Affirmative Action Group, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, Indigenous Business Women’s Organisation and Small Scale Miners Association of Zimbabwe, owning a 9% stake each. The Integrated Engineering Group, owned by Leo Mugabe has a 10% stake.

Mugabe, who has been fingered as the brains behind the bid for the AGM, confirmed the cancellation of the meeting on Tuesday saying there were technical problems with the wording of the circular which was sent to shareholders.

“The meeting has been postponed,” Mugabe said this week. “There was a problem with calling an AGM as it should be a shareholders’ meeting. As such, we are going to meet as ZWCEC later this week and send another circular.”

A shareholders’ meeting for the telecommunications company would give signals as to who owns what in the country’s second largest mobile operator by subscriber base.

The shareholding structure in Telecel Zimbabwe has been disputed by various interested parties.
It was also expected that the proposed AGM would pave way for board changes as WC had proposed that Mugabe, Shephard Kapota and Moffat Marashwa be elevated to the board, replacing Makamba, the chairman and Mutasa, his deputy, who has been acting as the boss after Makamba fled the country facing foreign currency externalisation charges five years ago.

WC has been capitalising on a bid by Orascom, the owners of Telecel International, which has a 60%stake in the local telecommunication company, to sell its stake to MTN, saying they should exercise their preemptive rights which would see them snap the entire stake.

WC has also been hiding behind the indigenisation regulations to compel Telecel International to dispose of part of its stake so that it would “be in line with the regulations”.

The indigenisation regulations require that a company valued above US$500 000 dispose 51% to “indigenous” Zimbabweans.
However, with the failure this week to convene the AGM, it is yet to be seen if WC still has enough shareholding to take complete control of the telecommunication company.

WC last week begged government to cancel the company’s operating licence in a bid to force Telecel International to meet its demands.

Leonard Makombe