Thousands of unregistered mobile phone subscribers faced the risk of being disconnected by their service providers today while those who lose their Sim cards will now be required to produce a police report to recover their lines.
On Friday the country’s mobile phone operators, NetOne, Telecel and Econet, warned their clients about the imminent disconnections, which they said were in line with the revised statutory regulations gazetted by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) last month.
The new regulations compel all mobile phone subscribers to register their Sim cards and Potraz had given operators up to yesterday to comply with the new Statutory Instrument 95 of 2014 that was gazetted on June 14.
“NetOne advises you to register your Sim card by 12 July to avoid disconnection,” read a message sent to NetOne subscribers Friday.
NetOne spokesperson Rutendo Chabururuka said his company was going to comply with Potraz guidelines and would disconnect unregistered subscribers.
“NetOne will comply with any Potraz instruction and this is no exception. We also strongly encourage full registration of Sim cards from all our subscribers,” said Chabururuka.
He said starting from today all new Sim card sales for NetOne numbers would be accompanied by a copy of the ID of the subscriber to ensure registration was done.
“Registration has been going on well and we’ll continue to encourage registration of Sim cards that exchange hands. If Sim cards exchange hands we encourage the new owner to register the Sim card failure of which the originally registered owner is recognised in the system as the bona fide owner of the Sim card,” said Chabururuka.
Telecel also urged its unregistered subscribers to comply or risk being disconnected today.
“Unregistered mobile phone users will be disconnected in line with Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) Statutory Instrument 95 of 2014 on Sim card registration,” Telecel said in a statement.
Telecel said the registration exercise was meant to protect the public from criminals using unregistered Sim cards.
“Furthermore, customers will now require a police report in the event that their Sim card is lost or stolen when making a replacement,” said Telecel.
Econet Wireless spokesperson Ranga Mberi also said his company would not deviate from the government’s directive.
Friday Econet, Telecel and NetOne shops were a hive of activity in Bulawayo as scores of unregistered subscribers jostled to register their Sim cards before close of business.Some operators had stopped selling Sim cards without registering the potential subscriber.
New subscribers were being asked to bring their national identity card or passport before they could walk out with their Sim card.
“It’s part of the new regulations. We’re not selling a Sim card to anyone without a passport or national ID,” said a sales person at one of the shops.
Zimbabwe has a mobile subscriber base of about 14 million with mobile penetration rate of about 103 percent.
The development has been driven by mobile phone users operating or owning more than one Sim card.