Vodacom Lesotho has been granted an interim order by the country’s High Court to prevent the revocation of its operating licence by the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA), reports Business Insider. Last week Vodacom said it was lodging an urgent application in the court to review attempts by the LCA to withdraw its unified licence, and to impose a fine of LSL134 million (USD8.1 million) for alleged contraventions of the Lesotho Companies Act, 2011 and certain conditions of its unified licence. ‘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 licence are both erroneous as a matter of law and public policy,’ commented the cellco’s managing director Philip Amoateng, adding: ‘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.’
The move by the regulator to revoke Vodacom’s licence followed accusations that the cellco’s external auditors were not fully independent, as required by the terms of its operating licence and the Lesotho Companies Act, 2011. The watchdog fined Vodacom a total of LSL134 million, with 70% of the fine suspended as long as Vodacom complied with the licensing rules in the future.
Following the High Court’s decision, the LCA must show cause why the interim order should not be made final on 23 October, a Vodacom spokesperson was cited as saying.