Robbery of the poor legalised: iLIVE
Anyone who is familiar with township, village or an informal settlement environment will recall the cell phone public phone business located at almost every busy spot in branded containers.
A successful empowerment venture that created wealth for those involved and created thousands of jobs and providing cheap and affordable service to the masses but was systematically quashed.
In a country like ours, where unemployment is soaring, closure of an empowerment sector at a rate they did, should warrant an investigation of the highest order.
Sadly, no network operator with the licence to provide the much needed cheap, affordable and accessible service to the poor country-wide is doing what the conditions of their licenses stipulates, to provide a reliable but cheap and affordable service to all under-serviced areas of Mzansi.
The network operators did live up to those conditions in the beginning but colluded with others to completely kill the industry when nobody was watching, including ICASA and DOC.
The poorest of the poor in this country, who makes the majority are forced to use cellular phones which were meant for an affording middle class, a luxury the masses cannot afford but have no other option available as the once regulated 90 cents a minute has been snatched away from them in favour of a recharge voucher the millions of citizens are using today.
The voucher that does not tell how do each minute spent on air using the phone costs, which flouts consumers' right to know, information that must always be displayed on the voucher, in the meantime raking in millions for the networks whilst stealing from the poor and the rich alike.
It is well documented that at the peak of the container public phone business, Vodacom had 20 000 containers, only in Gauteng. Other eight provinces were allocated their approximately 20 000 share of containers and if a single business unit created three jobs, a lot of families today go hungry as their one time breadwinners are on unemployment guess again and nobody is doing anything about it.
The situation above was a country-wide phenomenon with two more network operators entering the fray thus tripling the numbers mentioned.
While the three network operators looked like they were performing according to the license conditions, empowering many entrepreneurs, creating tens of thousands of jobs, providing cheap service to the poor and in the meantime earning themselves monetary incentives from government not to mention tax rebates.
But what was not immediately visible to all was that the network operators were actually implementing a colluded plan to destroy this flourishing industry and all that goes with it.
An over-saturation of the industry was unfolding in front of us, for how does one explain the no-protected business radius approach adopted when placing containers at locations.
There were many instances where all three networks would have their containers placed at a busy intersection, with distance between them as little as 50m. Worst still the scenario above would be done by one network.
With the regulated 90 cents per minute, it offered little prospects in terms of competition for owners, the result were closures of the businesses.
Through what seemed like unrelated business moves, cellular phones as cheap as R75 were introduced on the market with R2 airtime introduced to match. This provided the clearest replacement of the 90 cents meant for the poor.
With all the above, it does not require one to be a rocket scientist to know that South Africans have been sold a dummy while they are continually rendered poorer and network operators trade on the JSE.