Wicknell Didn’t Pay A Penny for Starlink License While Masiyiwa Is Charged Millions for Basics
27 May 2024
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Wicknell Chivayo Granted Starlink License Without Payment, Government Spokesman Confirms. Harare, Zimbabwe – In a shocking revelation that has sent ripples through Zimbabwe’s telecommunications industry, government spokesman Nick Mangwana has admitted that prominent businessman Wicknell Chivayo was issued a Starlink license without any financial cost. The disclosure came through a brief Twitter exchange, raising serious questions about fairness and transparency in the regulatory processes managed by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz). The revelation was made when Josphat Beto, a concerned citizen, queried Mangwana about the licensing procedures on Twitter. Beto pointed out that Liquid Telecommunications, another major player in the sector, had paid for their license issued by Potraz. He asked whether IMC Communications, Chivayo’s company, had also paid for their license and, if so, how much and when. Mangwana’s succinct response, “They issued a license to them,” confirmed that Chivayo’s IMC Communications was indeed granted the license but made no mention of any payment. This confirmation stands in stark contrast to the heavy fees imposed on other telecommunications operators in the country. For instance, Econet Wireless, one of Zimbabwe’s leading telecom companies, has been charged millions of dollars for its operating license by the same regulatory body, Potraz. The disparity in the financial requirements for licensing raises significant concerns about potential favoritism and the integrity of the regulatory framework. Reactions and Implications The news has sparked outrage among industry stakeholders and the general public, who perceive this as an unfair advantage given to Chivayo’s company. Econet Wireless and Liquid Telecommunications, which have long been established players in the market, are required to make substantial financial investments to maintain their licenses. The apparent waiver for Chivayo’s IMC Communications could distort the competitive landscape, undermining the principles of fair competition. Critics argue that this move could set a dangerous precedent, where political connections and influence might overshadow merit and fair business practices. The government’s role in the telecommunications sector, particularly the actions of Potraz under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is now under intense scrutiny. Calls for Transparency. In light of these revelations, there are growing calls for transparency and accountability in the issuance of telecommunications licenses. Industry experts and political analysts are demanding a detailed investigation into the licensing process of IMC Communications and the specific circumstances under which Chivayo was granted his license. Opposition parties and civil society organizations are also weighing in, calling for an immediate review of Potraz’s licensing procedures. They insist that all operators should be subjected to the same regulatory standards and financial obligations to ensure a level playing field. Government Response. As the news spreads, it remains to be seen how the government will respond to these allegations. Thus far, there has been no official statement from President Mnangagwa or Potraz regarding Mangwana’s admission. Stakeholders are urging the authorities to provide a comprehensive explanation and to address the disparities in the regulatory framework. The admission by Nick Mangwana has brought to light significant concerns about equity and governance within Zimbabwe’s telecommunications sector. As the public and industry players demand answers, the government faces mounting pressure to ensure that all regulatory actions are transparent, fair, and in the best interest of the nation’s economic and technological development. This developing story may demonstrate the need for rigorous oversight and accountability in public institutions, particularly those that regulate critical industries such as telecommunications. — #### Twitter Exchange: **Josphat Beto (@BetoJosphat)** > Liquid has a license issued by @Potraz_zw and they paid for it. Did @Potraz_zw issue a license to IMC Communications? How much did IMC pay for the license? When? **Nick Mangwana (@nickmangwana)** > They issued a license to them