President Robert Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao has been revealed as the man behind the deal to ensure Telecel Zimbabwe complies with the country’s local ownership rules.
A report by the Mail & Guardian now claims it was Zhuwao who was “roped into” a deal.
Zhuwao was appointed managing director of Empowerment Corporation, which currently owns 40 per cent of Telecel Zimbabwe, on July 1, a move reportedly instigated by Telecel’s chair James Makamba, who is currently in exile in South Africa after charges of foreign currency externalisation.
A source familiar with the situation told the Mail & Guardian: “Zhuwao was seen as the only person who could bail out the company. His relationship with President Robert Mugabe was seen as critical and likely to influence a favourable decision from government.”
Telecel International currently owns a 60 per cent stake in the operator, which had led to the original renewal application being rejected.
Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act stipulates locals must hold a 51 per cent stake in any company operating in the country.
In an earlier interview last week, Zhuwao admitted his political influence was a factor in getting the licence renewed.
He said: “My political experience also allowed me to facilitate and negotiate to stop the fights between the indigenous shareholders. I am also a successful businessman.”
Meanwhile, Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s other major network operator, has cut the cost of calling other networks by 60 per cent.
Econet had previously cut its subscribers off completely from calling rival Telecel customers when the latter had its licence renewal application rejected.