Harare lawyer sues DSTV over insistence on US dollar subscriptions
By Daniel Nemukuyu
A HARARE lawyer has approached the High Court seeking an order compelling Skynet Private Limited (Multichoice Zimbabwe) to accept bank card swipe, bank transfers, ecocash and bond notes for DSTV subscriptions.
Most households countrywide have over the past months failed to raise the required United States dollars required for DSTV subscription.
Hard hit by cash shortages, Zimbabweans cannot easily raise bond notes and coins hence the application by Mr James Majatame of Takawira Law Chambers for an order compelling the service provider to accept other methods of payment.
In the application filed at the High Court yesterday morning, Mr Majatame is seeking a declaratory order compelling Multichoice to accept the other methods of payment permissible in terms of the laws of the country.
Mr Majatame argued that Multichoice’s conduct of refusing to accept other forms of payment was unlawful.
“The first respondent’s (Multichoice) conduct of refusing to accept subscriptions by way of swipe, ecocash, bank transfer, bond notes and coins, preferring US dollars only, is unlawful.
“The Government in 2016 passed Statutory Instrument 133 of 2016 and the principal Act, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Act (2016) through which bond notes and coins were issued as legal tender in Zimbabwe.
“Section 44B(2) of the said SI 133 of 2016, provides that bond notes and coins are exchangeable at par value with any specified currency other than Zimbabwean currency prescribed as legal tender for the purposes of Section 44A.
“Clearly the refusal by the Respondent to accept my payment for its services in bond notes or coins, is not only illegal but it is a massive slap in the face for the Government and lawmakers,” said Mr Majatame.
He said no one was above the law in Zimbabwe, hence Multichoice, as long as it does its business in this jurisdiction, must respect Zimbabwean laws.
“Respondent’s conduct in this regard appears to be that of the animals who are more equal than others. The law puts everyone at par, and the respondent should not be allowed to gain an unfair advantage over others,” said Mr Majatame.
He submitted that Zimbabwe was experiencing cash problems and that Multichoice’s conduct had an effect of promoting black market.
“Applicant implores the court to take judicial notice of the liquidity crunch that our country is facing now.
“Cash in US dollars is now a scarce commodity. The conduct by the respondent of demanding US dollars only for its DSTV services promotes black market which is more averse to our country and economy,” said Majatame.
Multichoice, Majatame’s lawyers argued, was exhibiting the big brother attitude in business.
“Respondent is a service company operating in Zimbabwe and it enjoys not only a monopoly, it also enjoys oligopoly hence it feels like it is a big boy in town and can disrespect its customers and the lawmakers in whichever way without it being reprimanded.”
Mr Majatame is a holder of a DSTV account and he visited Multichoice offices in Avondale, Harare on Wednesday to make payment for subscriptions using a bank card.
“The man behind the counter informed me that they were not accepting any subscriptions through swipe, bank transfer, bond notes and coins. He told me that they were only accepting US dollars,” reads Mr Majatame’s founding affidavit.
Multichoice is yet to respond to the application. The Herald