Econet Wireless wishes to state the following regarding interconnection with Telecel Zimbabwe:
Econet Wireless was on 10 July 2013, awarded a renewed 20-year licence following the expiry of the 15-year licence issued in 1998. This licence places certain strict conditions on our operations. Clause 5.2.2 of our licence requires us to interconnect only with licensed operators.
This paragraph derives from Section 61 of the Act, which allows a licensed operator to interconnect with another licensed operator. Section 2 of the Act defines a licensee as a holder of a valid licence issued in terms of section 37 of the Act. There is no obligation to interconnect with a provider of telecommunications services that is not validly licensed in terms of Section 37 of the Act.
Telecel Zimbabwe is not a holder of a valid licence issued in terms of Section 37 of the Act. Telecel Zimbabwe was announced as the winner of a tender to operate a mobile telecommunications service in 1996. The award of the licence to Telecel Zimbabwe was declared to be invalid by a High Court judgment handed down on 31 December 1997. Telecel Zimbabwe appealed to the Supreme Court, but the appeal was never pursued. The High Court granted leave for the execution of its judgment pending appeal. That leave was never challenged in the Supreme Court. If Telecel Zimbabwe was subsequently issued with a licence, the issue of such a licence was in violation of the High Court Judgment, and of the Telecommunications legislation that applied at the time.
In any event, as is a matter of public record, the Telecel Zimbabwe licence was subsequently validly terminated. Assuming the licence issued to Telecel was valid and was not validly terminated, such licence expired on 2 June 2013. As can be confirmed with regulatory authorities, no new licence had been issued in its place. Therefore, as matters stand, Telecel is not a holder of a valid telecommunications licence issued in terms of section 37 of the Act.
Econet Wireless does not have any legal or moral obligation to interconnect with an unlicensed operator. In fact, we have a duty to disconnect such an operator. Econet Wireless has fully met the terms of its new licence, which terms include hugely burdensome financial obligations. In contrast, Telecel has not been subjected to any such financial obligations. With no such burden upon it, Telecel has been free to deliberately engage in trading practices that have distorted the playing field.
In the circumstances, Econet Wireless regrets to advise that we are obliged to disconnect Telecel from our network.