A Zimbabwean black empowerment group which seeks a controlling stake in Telecel, the nation’s second-ranked mobile provider, has asked President Robert Mugabe to tip the balance in a corporate battle between Egyptian investors and local players.
Sources said President Mugabe’s nephew, Leo Mugabe, has approached the president and asked him to issue a new Telecel license to his group, the Zimbabwe Wealth Creation and Empowerment Council. That’s an umbrella for the Affirmative Action Group, the Indigenous Business Women’s Organization, the National Miners Association, the Zimbabwe War Veterans Association and several other organizations.
Sources informed on the situation said Leo Mugabe claims that this group has a right to purchase a majority stake in Telecel Zimbabwe as agreed when the company was set up. At present, Telecel Globe of Egypt holds a 60 percent stake.
Ousted Telecel Chairwoman Jane Mutasa told Parliament today that Telecel is operating without a license and many top Telecel officials, including James Makamba, another former chairman, are based outside Zimbabwe at present.
Telecel Chief Commercial Officer Anwar Soussa said the provider is doing business as usual despite the wrangle. “I cannot say anything about Telecel shares but in terms of conducting business, we are operating and exploring more opportunities,” he said.
Economic commentator Walter Mbongolwane said Leo Mugabe is trying to seize Telecel from its rightful owners through manipulation of Zimbabwe's indigenization laws.
“We are waiting to see what will happen to this company which is being targeted by indigenous groups that are fully aware of the huge benefits of a telecommunications entity in the mobile phone sector,” Mbongolwane told reporter Gibbs Dube.