Vodacom’s operating licence revoked in Lesotho

The Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) has revoked the unified licence of Vodacom Lesotho, the organisation announced in a notice issued on 8 October 2020.

It said this action was taken because Vodacom failed to pay a fine of the equivalent of R134 million for contravening local legislation and the conditions of its operating licence in the region.

“Notice is hereby given of the revocation of the Unified License of Vodacom Lesotho (Pty) Ltd in accordance with section 47(1)(e) of the Communications Act, 2012 read with conditions 7(c) and 8 of the terms of License for failure to comply with the directive to pay a penalty of M40,200,000 by 7 October 2020,” the LCA stated.

The referenced legislation allows the LCA to, among other options, modify, suspend, or revoke a licensee’s licence if they are found to have contravened the Communications Act or any regulation, rule, code, or directive issued by the LCA.

Vodacom will challenge this revocation in the High Court of Lesotho, the company said in a statement.

“Vodacom Lesotho confirms that it has lodged an urgent application in the High Court of Lesotho to have reviewed and set aside the decisions of the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA), imposing a fine for a staggering sum of M134 million for alleged contraventions of section 97 of the Companies Act, 2011 and certain conditions of its unified license,” Vodacom said.

In the same application, Vodacom has challenged the lawfulness of the LCA’s decision to revoke its unified licence.

No choice but court

“We had 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 license are both erroneous as a matter of law and public policy,” Vodacom Lesotho MD Philip Amoateng said.

“The LCA has unfortunately violated its prescripts and rules and our efforts to find an amicable solution to the dispute has drawn a complete blank.”

“Given the hostility shown by the LCA towards Vodacom, our options are now limited to seeking redress in the courts to avert further damage to our brand, reputation and the interests of stakeholders, including our customers, shareholders and employees,” he said.

Vodacom said that in addition to its investment in network infrastructure and corporate growth, it has also made significant contributions to the Lesotho community.

“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,” it said.

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Vodacom’s operating licence revoked in Lesotho