The high court in Lesotho has granted Vodacom an interim order preventing the country’s telecommunications regulator from revoking the company’s operating licence and imposing a fine of the equivalent of R134-million.
Vodacom said on Saturday that the court has ordered that the Lesotho Communication Authority (LCA) must appear on 23 October to argue why the interim order shouldn’t be made a final order.
TechCentral first reported on Thursday that the LCA had written to Vodacom Group’s subsidiary in the landlocked Southern African nation, telling it that its “unified licence” to operate had been revoked.
The LCA’s decision came after it imposed the R134-million fine on Vodacom Lesotho for allegedly flouting its licence conditions and for allegedly being in breach of local legislation governing companies. Vodacom is Lesotho’s biggest mobile operator.
Vodacom Lesotho MD Philip Amoateng said in a statement late on Thursday: “We have no option but to seek relief in the courts because the LCA’s decisions imposing an excessive fine as well as the revocation of Vodacom’s operating licence are both erroneous as a matter of law and public policy. These actions put at risk the country’s telecommunications ecosystem, including financial services platforms such as M-Pesa, and tens of thousands of jobs.”
At the heart of the dispute is an allegation by the LCA that Vodacom Lesotho flouted corporate governance rules by hiring an auditing firm allegedly owned by the sister-in-law of the operator’s chairman, Matjato Moteane. Moteane leads a consortium called Sekhametsi that owns 20% of Vodacom Lesotho (Vodacom Group owns the other 80%).
Vodacom said on Saturday that it remains “fully focused on delivering great value and a superior customer experience to the 1.2 million people who have chosen us as their network provider of choice”.
“In other words, it remains business as usual for all our valued customers,” it said. — © 2020 NewsCentral Media