Chivayo’s Starlink Tender Sparks Discontent: Zimbabweans Question Approval Process

May 29, 2024
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Zimbabweans have expressed dissatisfaction with the prolonged delay in granting Starlink permission to operate in Zimbabwe, only to witness the tender awarded to Wicknell Chivayo, a convicted fraudster and Zanu Pf loyalist. Questions have arisen regarding the sudden affiliation between Chivayo’s company and POTRAZ, as well as whether other companies had the opportunity to bid for the tender. Chivayo took to his social media platforms to boast about securing the tender, stating, “An intelligent person shared the benefits of Starlink to the Head of State, who approved it. So, what if he’s a Zanu PF supporter? Did you expect a businessman from CCC or MDC to go and convince our President? Vanenge vasangana kupi?” He argued that it’s unlikely the tender would have been granted to a non-supporter of the ruling party, as such individuals seldom have the opportunity to engage with the President, let alone influence his decisions.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has given his approval for Starlink to commence commercial operations in Zimbabwe. This approval follows after Chivayo secured the tender to supply Starlink internet services. President Mnangagwa announced his endorsement of Starlink’s licensing by POTRAZ to deliver advanced internet and digital processing services within Zimbabwe. He specified that POTRAZ’s exclusive local partner for this endeavor will be IMC Communications, a company owned by Chivayo.

Starlink, owned by American Businessman, Elon Musk, aims to provide Zimbabweans with high-speed internet services through its low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite network. The company plans to commence its services in the third quarter of 2024 pending necessary approvals. Pricing details for the Zimbabwean market have not yet been disclosed.

President Mnangagwa is optimistic that the introduction of Starlink will enhance access to affordable broadband internet, especially in rural areas. According to POTRAZ, Zimbabwe currently boasts 11 million internet subscribers, equating to a penetration rate of 73.3%. However, the DataReportal data platform reports a lower figure of 5.5 million internet subscribers, with a penetration rate of 32.6%.

“Innovation, science, and technology are integral to the development agenda of the Second Republic, as outlined in Vision 2030. Given the growing significance of the digital economy and technology in our daily lives, it is imperative for the government to foster an environment conducive to technological investment,” remarked President Mnangagwa.