In December 1996, the Constitutional Court, ordered the Minister of Telecoms to end the PTC monopoly for a second time. They gave her six weeks to run a tender process and select an operator, or simply allow Econet to start operating. Whilst many people, expected her to let us operate since we already had a system, and had been fighting for nearly 5 years, I knew through my network of sympathisers that a massive conspiracy, was being hatched, to try and thwart us, once and for all.
The Minister set up a Technical Committee (TC), and within 2 weeks, they published a public tender. Whilst many people wondered how they had managed such an extraordinary feat, in such a short time frame. It would all be revealed spectacularly, in another court battle!
We submitted a tender response, along with five other companies. Exactly 4 weeks later, on 28th February 1997, the Minister announced that another company had won the tender, and was immediately issued the license. They announced that we had come fourth, out of five bidders, even though we had a working system, on the ground!
The following day, the Minister announced that they had complied fully with the order of the court and she also directed that I be arrested for illegal possession of telecommunications equipment.
The headline of one of the newspapers read:
“Masiyiwa’s Dream Crumbles”
That morning, I received a very interesting visitor…
“…The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet…”
To be continued…
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa