Now that all is said and done, the principal problems that rocked Zamtel pre-2010,which centred on high capital cost of expanding Zamtel’s telecommunications infrastructure and the lack of variety and diversity of the benefits from Governments’ capital investment in the organisation, must be addressed, even in the absence of a foreign partner, ZACCI has advised.
The Chamber observes that on back of Government control, Zamtel had a challenge in shifting from analog to an overall digital solution for its telecommunications system hence remained behind in the process of eliminating much of the traditional facets towards advanced switching and transmission which hold back efficient and flexible use of equipment.
ZACCI observes that until Government decides to bring on board an equity partner or partners, or if they opt to run the organisation for some time, though difficult in the latter position, they should strive to offer adequate autonomy to allow the implementation and provision of appropriate organisational and financial measures in Zamtel. Such measures must, to a higher degree, free the entity from day-to-day government interference and should provide for continuity of senior strategic management despite political changes in the ministerial heads as and when they occur.
To operate efficiently, Zamtel should not have to secure government approval for normal top corporate management decisions as the national ICT government development policy and ICT sector regulatory guidelines provide this buffer. However, alongside all the flexibility and independence government may offer, we expect Zamtel to follow the policies laid down by Government. Government should expect the entity to pay normal taxes and duties, market bank rates of interest for all new debt including that from government, and dividends on government equity at a rate that will attract equity capital.
Aside the on-going investigations on the 2010 privatisation process of Zamtel, ZACCI is confident ZAMTEL will continue to play the focus role in the provision of high quality telecommunication services. We call upon the managers not to take their eyes off the ball with regard to the role telecommunications play in health care, education and training, commerce and trade and indeed national tax management.We are pleased with Government’s call that Zamtel workers should not lose jobs during the ownership change process.