High Court of Lesotho temporarily halts Vodacom Lesotho’s license revocation
Vodacom Lesotho (VCL) has been granted an interim order by the High Court interdicting Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) from enforcing the payment of 134 million maLoti ($8 million) fine and to revoke VCL’s operating license.
LCA early this month revoked VCL’s operating license in a bid to push the mountain kingdom’s biggest telecom operator to pay a M40 million ($2 million) fine which was due on the 7th of October.
Late last month LCA backtracked its earlier decision to revoke VCL’s license and imposed a M134 million fine over non-compliance with the provisions of the latter's license, and failure to appoint independent auditors between 2015 and 2019.
LCA announced VCL was supposed to pay M40 million-a 30 percent of the M134 million by the 7th of October this year while the 70 percent is suspended for five years and failure to pay would attract a license revocation. VCL then sought relief from the Lesotho High Court.
“Vodacom confirms that the High Court of Lesotho has granted an interim order interdicting the LCA from: enforcing the payment of the fine of M134 million it imposed on Vodacom; and revoking the company's unified license,” said Vodacom Lesotho spokesperson in a statement.
Vodacom Lesotho spokesperson said in terms of the Court Order, the LCA must, on 23 October 2020, show cause why the interim order should not be made final.
The spokesperson said it remains business as usual. “We assure citizens of Lesotho that we remain fully focused 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,” reads part of the statement.
The tension between LCA and VCL dates back to 2015 when the latter refused to comply with a directive to appoint a new auditor replacing an auditor who is a relative of the telecom operator’s board chairman.
LCA said between 2015 and 2019 the telecom operator contravened its license conditions by submitting audited financial statements that were unaccompanied by a certification issued by an independent external auditor but instead signed by the chairman’s relative.
In February this year VCL was fined $5 million by LCA for the failure to replace the chairman’s relative as its auditor with an independent external auditor from 2015 to 2019.
VCL was also given about $54 000 to connect the internet to 30 schools but it failed to report progress even after some schools complained that they were not connected.