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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
and Telecel mobiles still not connecting
With less than
a day before Zimbabwe’s
crucial elections, the country’s two major mobile service
providers have still not resolved a standoff over licensing that
has left their customers unable to connect to each other.
Last week the largest
mobile phone provider, Econet Wireless, which has more than 8 million
subscribers, severed its mobile interconnection with the second
largest operator Telecel. The company said Telecel had not yet renewed
its operating license and they were obligated by law to sever ties
“Telecel is not
a holder of a valid telecommunications license 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
The standoff means that
millions of Zimbabweans using these different services cannot connect
to each other until the situation is resolved. Many have questioned
the timing of this move by Econet, given that a crucial election
was just days away when connections were severed.
The country’s regulating
authority, POTRAZ, has simply said they referred the matter to the
Ministry of Transport, Communications, which has also not made any
attempt to resolve the situation.
Observers have strongly
criticized both service providers for allowing voters to be deprived
of an important communication service ahead of the Wednesday poll.
In addition, the standoff
comes on the heels of a recent block to bulk email service by POTRAZ,
adding to concerns that the Mugabe regime may be sabotaging communications
as part of a plot to rig the election and tamper with results.
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