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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Econet 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 with them.

    “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 reportedly said.

    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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