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Telecel’s monumental collapse

JULIA NDLELA
TELECEL Zimbabwe’s troubles have continued to mount with indications that the telecoms firm is now recruiting graduate trainees to plug the staff exodus necessitated by the company’s unsustainable debt levels, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

Telecel shareholding includes James Makamba through Kestrel Corporation; the Indigenous Business Women Organisation, but the shareholding is personalised through Jane Mutasa’s Selporn Investments; Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation, Affirmative Action Group, War Veterans’ Association and Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union.Communications and Allied Workers Union of Zimbabwe secretary general, David Mhambare told the independent that the liquidation of the company was inevitable.

“The staff turnover is now unprecedented. The company is now recruiting graduate trainees to cover for staff turnover. It’s pathetic, salaries are low, the network is always down and revenues are at their lowest since the launch of Telecel,” Mhambare said, adding that the current status of employee welfare was not pleasing. He added that January salaries have not been paid while bonuses for 2021 were paid in three tranches. Employees had to engage a third party but failed in the process due to their restricted access to the company’s financial statements.

The employees at one point tried to engage the Minister of Information Communication Technologies and Courier Services Jenfan Muswere to put the company under corporate rescue.

Minister Jenfan Muswere

This was to be done in line with a statutory instrument under section 121 of the Insolvency Act (Chapter 6:07). The Act is a means to facilitate the rehabilitation of a company that is performing poorly.

Corporate rescue means that there is temporary supervision of a company encompassing the management of its affairs, business and property.

Most importantly, corporate rescue begins the development of a plan to preserve the company by re-orientating its affairs, business, property, debt and other liabilities.

“We are pursuing that avenue because as workers we have a right to engage the courts to put Telecel Zimbabwe under judicial management. We are disappointed by the minister’s weak approach and we wonder why he is not acting on the government shareholding depreciating,” Mhambare said.

When asked for a comment, Telecel Zimbabwe public relations executive Zitha Dube-Ntini said there was no regulatory threat to the operating licence.

The network woes have also become another challenge affecting both the telecoms firm and its subscribers.

Dube-Ntini noted that the current connectivity challenges were as a result of Mobile Switching Controller (MSC) software expiration.

“Telecel Zimbabwe would like to draw the public‘s attention to the current network challenges that it has been experiencing intermittently.  At the moment, customers are failing to make voice calls and at times access data services.

“This is due to expired software on the main Mobile Switching Controller (MSC). The software has since been renewed. However, the network is still having call control rejections,” Dube-Ntini said.

She further said the company was working in close co-operation with the vendor Huawei, to rectify the challenge and was confident of resolution in the shortest possible time.

“We would like to assure all stakeholders that there is no regulatory threat to the operating licence and we expect normal services to resume as soon as the technical challenge is rectified,” Dube-Ntini said.

There are also claims that the mobile operator’s information technology systems are dysfunctional with subscribers failing to recharge airtime due to a combination of system failure and loss of critical staff.

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