Zambian lawmakers have directed Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel) to immediately recover the money it is owed by the Zambian government in unpaid telephone bills.
Lawmakers sitting on the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) have expressed shock over what they say is an outstanding account of K30 million (approximately US$4million) owed to the telco.
The committee, through chairperson Gertrude Imenda, presented its report to parliament last week and ordered Zamtel to immediately recover the money in order for the company to sustain its operations. “Zamtel has to survive through these hard economic times,” Imenda said.
Zamtel is government owned and the country’s third largest mobile phone company after MTN and Airtel. It is also the country’s only fixed line operator.
The Zambian government, through the minister of Communications and Transport, has not offered reasons for its failure to settle the bills.
The report also revealed that Zamtel was unable to settle annual fees payable to the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) due to lack of money.
In February this year, the Auditor General released a damning audit report on Zamtel which showed that the company made huge losses since 2011 when Libyan investor Lap Green Networks was forced to hand over the company to the Zambian government.
The auditors report showed that Zamtel was technically insolvent and required urgent recapitalization by the government.
In 2010, the previous Zambian government sold Zamtel to Lap Green Networks of Libya for US$ 394 million (R2.9 billion) on grounds that it had failed to recapitalise the company.
Lap Green became the majority shareholder in Zamtel with 75% shares in the company.
But in 2012, the current administration reversed the sale of the company following allegations of fraud and corruption by the previous administration.