Vodacom fights back

Vodacom fights back

MASERU-VODACOM Lesotho is set to launch a legal battle to fight the M134 million fine imposed by the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) last week.
thepost can reveal that the papers for the case were being finalised yesterday and will be filed in the High Court either today or tomorrow.

thepost understands that Vodacom will argue that the fine is unfair because it was based on unfounded allegations that it appointed an external audit firm whose partner is related to the chairman.
The company, sources said, will argue that the LCA should not have seized on that issue because it is not within its regulatory powers.

The crux of that argument is that the LCA should have asked the Lesotho Institute of Accountants (LIA) which regulates accounting and auditing firms.
The papers will also argue that authority should have referred the matter to the Registrar of Companies.

The company is also likely to dispute the quantum of the fine.
Apart from the lawsuit Vodacom has also complained to Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro about the fine. The company’s representatives met Majoro on Monday hours after the LCA chief executive officer, ’Mamarame Matela, held a press conference to explain the fine.

Majoro’s spokesman, Mosito Moqhekoana, told thepost that the LCA also attended the meeting.
“They met on Monday after lunch with all the stakeholders,” Moqhekoana said.
He however said he was not privy to the details of what was discussed because he was not in the meeting.

Several sources close to the issue however told this paper that Vodacom’s representatives told the Prime Minister that they felt the company was being unfairly targeted.
The sources said the LCA insisted that it followed the law and Vodacom had been given ample opportunity to present its case before the fine was imposed.

A source said Majoro then told the parties that it was important to handle the issue with “care and avoid a public spat that might further paint Lesotho in bad light”.
“He said he wanted this matter resolved as soon as possible and amicably,” the source said.
Matela instructed Vodacom to immediately pay M40.2 million or 30 percent of fine.

She however said the other M93.8 million (70 percent) of the fine is suspended for five years on condition that Vodacom “does not commit any further contraventions of its regulatory obligations during the said period”.
“In the event that Vodacom fails to comply, the Authority shall proceed to revoke the unified licence,” said Matela in the letter to Philip Amoateng, Vodacom’s managing director.

At a press conference on Monday, Matela accused Vodacom of persistently ignoring the authority’s orders, launching a media campaign and trying to use political influence to block the decision.

Nkheli Liphoto

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