Vodacom can keep its operating license in Lesotho after the mobile phone company won a court challenge on Saturday against Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) from revoking the company’s unified license.
The Vodafone-owned company challenged LCA not to revoke the license and enforce the payment of the fine of M134 million.
The company said on Saturday that the Lesotho High Court had ordered that the LCA must appear on 23 October to show cause why the interim order should not be made final.
“We assure citizens of Lesotho that we remain fully focussed 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 and the around 661 000 M-Pesa users who rely on us for inclusive access to financial services,” Vodacom said in a statement.
“In other words, it remains business as usual for all our valued customers.”
This followed a decision by the LCA to revoke the unified licence of Vodacom Lesotho because of a dispute over auditing practices.
The authority has imposed a staggering fine of M134 million for Vodacom’s alleged contravention of section 97 of the Companies Act 2011 and certain conditions of its unified license.
The Post, a publication based in the capital, Maseru, reported that the fine, whose quantum is unprecedented in Lesotho, will send chills in a telecommunications sector already grappling with the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Along the way, there has been an unconfirmed allegation that some politicians want to push out Vodacom and bring in a new mobile network operator linked to their cronies.
The LCA has however insisted that its only motive is to ensure compliance.
Since Vodacom Lesotho launched in 1996, the company has made significant contributions to the fiscus, helped bridge the digital divide and introduced programmes that have benefited many of the country’s citizens.
Examples include a direct and indirect tax contribution over a three-year period alone (financial years 2018 -2020) that is approximately M1 billion and a M2.2 billion investment in providing ubiquitous connectivity to Basotho – with a nationwide network covering 98.5% of the population.
Additionally, Vodacom has spent M85 million since 2016 on corporate social investment, contributing to better healthcare, increased digital skills through initiatives such as “Code like a girl” and supported job creation through incubation of small-scale local business, amongst others.