A day after Econet Wireless, the country’s leading mobile operator hiked its data charges in compliance with a Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe directive, the company has issued a statement to possibly douse attacks the company has been receiving over the move.
Through its Chief Executive Officer, Douglas Mboweni, Econet said the move to hike data charges was a mere compliance to POTRAZ directive.
“Econet acknowledges that our recent implementation of the new floor pricing for data which was done in compliance with the directive that was issued to all mobile network operators by the industry regulator POTRAZ has not only inconvenienced you our valued customers but has caused you pain
“We have read and listened to the feedback that you have shared with us in respect to this action. We assure you that we take this feedback with seriousness that it deserves and we are engaging the regulator on the matter. Our goal continues to seek to consistently provide you the convenience, choice and value for money. However we believe and trust that you are aware that Econet operates in a regulated industry and as the industry leader, we are obligated to comply with the directives which are issued to us by the regulator from time to time and this directive is one such instance,” reads the statement.
While Econet seems to be putting the blame on POTRAZ, leaked minutes of a meeting held at Telecel offices on the 17th of October last year reveal that the company was actually pushing for even higher charges than those gazetted.
According to minutes of the meeting also attended by Netone and Telecel, Econet represented by Douglas Mboweni, Fayaz King and two other top managers, proposed $0, 05 for data and $0, 12 for voice calls.
Meanwhile Zimbabweans continue to voice their disapproval of the move to hike data charges labeling it a political ploy to shut out people from using online communication services such as WhatsApp and Facebook which are seen as avenues of mobilization and resistance against the Zanu PF regime.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) said the move is aimed at closing democratic spaces for opposition movements as the country prepares for elections scheduled for 2018.
“The increase in mobile data tariffs by over 2 500% has all but confirmed that the Zimbabwean government has intensified its efforts to close the democratic space especially as we head towards the 2018 polls,” said CiZC in a statement released to the media on Thursday.
CiZC further implored the Zimbabwean government to desist from implementing political decisions that serve the interests of the ruling party politicians while infringing on citizens’ fundamental rights adding that the move to hike data charges makes access to information a preserve of the elite.