Econet Game of Phones; Is Mandiwanzira SUPAman or a Villain?

Econet Game of Phones; Is Mandiwanzira SUPAman or a Villain?

It has been over a week since ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira was pitted in a see-saw war of words with the largest mobile communications services provider in the land - Econet.

And it wasn’t pretty.

As the rains pounded and the mud grew thick, the two wrestled like pigs in dirt and people were torn apart with regards whom to blame. 
Occupying the Iron Throne...Supa Mandiwanzira

Some thought it was Supa and his ministry, while others were in Econet’s corner.

But who was ultimately to blame in THIS battle.

Econet had a point. As the service provider which is arguably the cleanest with regards observing statutory requirements, especially payment of taxes and all bills that they are expected to, they should feel hard done by the government.

Netone and Telecel are evidently spoilt children under the protective cloak of the government which has interests in both networks. And the two networks owe Econet. A lot! And they owe government. A lot.

But this was not about the state of the networks. It was a simple issue. Why had the network raised their charges way above what had then been pegged as the floor price for services and why had they done so with much zeal and glee?

The public domain is awash with all that transpired. The evidence is now out there in the open and anyone can read all the documents availed and can decide who their villain is.

But the case that the minister raised shows there is no love lost between Supa and Econet.

Certainly, the attack by Econet on Supa was rather personal which beggared the question what damsel did they fight over which might make one fight the minister bare-knuckled in the public domain. On their part, Econet were pedestrian, lacklustre in thinking, threw caution to the wind and quite frankly let an ignoramus, if not moron, write their presser, and whoever thought they ought to give that press statement the nod was quite frankly not thinking.

It was unlike Econet. A slick company whose record in P.R is as slick as they come. At least traditionally.

From the days of Dakarai Mapuranga right through to Ranga Mberi, they always had an intelligent explanation to everything. They could make you drink a glass of thick-black used oil and convince you it was a fresh glass of milk. Evidently that subtle punching and slick diplomacy has been replaced by the hare-brained.

The minister has his own gremlin. He mentioned something alarming. He had indeed heard people complain about things like how data ‘mysteriosuly’ disappears from people’s accounts but he remained mum.

It took a lunatic fringe from Econet to make him mention that he knew about that misdeameanour. What had he done about it thus far? And what if Econet had not hired a lunatic to coin their press release and angered him? Would he have responded to the woes of the many customers that have cried foul.

That is your error Mr Minister.

And yet the same revelation shows what we all have thought: Econet are a bully in the industry. They argue that because tariffs have been cut then they unilaterally cut worker’s salaries by 20 percent - take it or go to Bocha. They ORDER suppliers to cut their charges by 15 percent.

And now the floor price of tariff had been raised would they suddenly raise worker’s salaries by the preposterous rates they had raised their services? We all know the answer to that. The difference is this time the village bully picked the wrong adversary and are now as quiet as death.

There is something dark about Econet and how they conduct their business, including the unilateral ‘transfiguration’ of money from digits to zero balance in spite of them being a company with Christian values, whatever that means.

The truth is if the Devil ever did attachment, he certainly did that work related to training at Econet. A shady, thuggish company which at one time dripped sim cards in spite of its capacity to avail more, which saw the black market go so strong that many bought their sim cards at anything around the margin of $100. United States dollars!

It’s not a fib that some still hold onto their SIM cards because of their having bought them long ago after enduring long hours at the queue or having parted with ridiculous amounts. How the God of the Bible, as we know it, fits into that business therefore is baffling.

The real reason we have held on is actually a form of Stockholm syndrome. Falling in love with our captor in spite of all the negatives that surround him.

In all the years however it is probably ripe to say the new tagline by Econet is a brilliant one that aptly describes them. “Look up,” they say, “the future is bright!” And they are cunning. As we look up and face a blinding sun their hands are in our pockets. The future is bright for them as airtime disappears from our savings into their coffers!

Yes. Finally Econet have been called out to answer to issues of how ‘applications’ only consume airtime on their network but never on any other network.

And that dark predecessor to Ecosure where people contributed but not even a dog was buried under that botched scheme.

But like the devils, they will lick our ears, rub our bottoms with baby oil and send us to sleep. And soon we will forget how they con us every day.

In fact, when they raise the political card of being the victim, we sympathise with them and see a company under threat.

And now those overcharged for bundles have had their bundles reimbursed. But for those who surfed under those exorbitant prices with call credit, the deal is to forget and move on and pretend that never happened.

At the end of it all, Econet is wrong and Supa is not so Supa after all and has to play fair with Econet to level the playing field.

As for their public spat which wasn’t good for the both of them, both the minister and Econet have to do some soul searching. Except maybe in the end only Supa will soul search. Because for one to soul search, they need to have a soul in the first place and well…Econet and soul in one sentence? Perhaps that’s being too ambitious.

At the end of this episode of Game of Phones, Supa occupies the iron throne!


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