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Econet pays M1, 5 million fine

 

Bereng Mpaki

ECONET Telecom Lesotho (ETL) has paid a M1, 5 million fine imposed on it by the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) for the late submission of its licence renewal application.

The renewal application is supposed to be filed at least two years before the expiry of a licence. ETL’s licence was supposed to have filed its application on or before 11 October 2019 since its licence expires next year.

A fortnight ago, LCA chief executive officer, ‘Mamarame Matela, announced that ETL had been given until the end of December 2020 to have paid the fine.

But the mobile services decided not to wait until then. LCA public relations manager, Tšiu Tšiu, and his ETL counterpart, Puleng Masoabi, both confirmed that ETL had paid the fine.

“Econet paid the full amount last week,” Mr Tšiu told the Sunday Express yesterday.

“As far as we are concerned our issues with Econet regarding the fine have been resolved,” he added.

On her part, Ms Masoabi said, “I can confirm that we have settled the entire fine”.

“This shows that we are compliant corporate citizens and where we have fallen short of the law, we acknowledge our mistakes. It is important for us to keep cordial relations with the regulator because we care about our business,” Ms Masoabi added.

The ETL fine pales in comparison to the staggering M134 million fine the LCA slapped on Vodacom Lesotho for allegedly flouting various licensing regulations.

Vodacom Lesotho was ordered to immediately pay M40, 2 million or 30 percent of the entire fine imposed on it. The remaining M93, 8 million (70 percent) of the fine was suspended for five years on condition that the firm does not commit similar violations within that period.

The fine ought to have been paid by 7 October 2020. When that was not done, the LCA decided to revoke Vodacom’s operating licence the following day.

This prompted Vodacom to file an urgent High Court application for an interim order overturning the authority’s decision. This was duly granted by Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo, enabling the company to continue providing services until its application for a final order against the decision to revoke its licence.

The chairman of the board of LCA, the LCA chief executive officer and the LCA are first to third respondents respectively.

The matter was initially supposed to be heard on 23 October 2020 by Justice Keketso Moahloli but it will now be heard on 27 November 2020.

The postponement is meant to allow LCA to file its heads of arguments and Vodacom to file its response.

Vodacom has warned that the LCA’s decision could spark a serious economic, social and security crisis in the country.

From an economic perspective, Vodacom Managing Director, Phillip Amoateng, has warned that the deleterious effects of the revocation will range from the loss of international investor confidence in Lesotho to the loss of billions in direct and indirect tax revenues as well as the loss of 23 000 jobs.

With 1, 2 million subscribers, Vodacom is by far the largest of the two mobile communications in Lesotho which has a 2,1 million population.

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