By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Thousands of consumers are crying foul over what they consider massive hikes in the price of Econet private WiFi bundles which went up by 30 percent this week.
Many people did not respond well to the new data prices with some accusing the telecoms giant of abusing its “monopoly” in the telecommunications sector to milk struggling citizens.
In a statement, Content Creators Network ZW (CCNZW) said the increase in data prices was impacting negatively on consumers given the fact that the country is gripped by the Covid-19 third wave and people are urged to work from home.
“The Content Creators Network has noted with concern, the recent data price increase by the country’s largest mobile internet service provider, Econet.
“The increase, which further places internet connectivity beyond the reach of many, comes at a time when the country is experiencing a third Covid-19 wave whose recommended mitigation measures include remote working.
“Working from home is possible in the presence of a stable and affordable internet connectivity. However, the latest move by Econet has complicated matters as new prices threaten to eat further into already subdued salaries being earned by workers,” read the statement.
The CCNZW added that price hikes were risking limiting people’s access to the internet and keeping customers offline, thereby infringing on the right to access to information.
“Content Creators Network ZW calls on Econet to reconsider the new prices, as they have an opportunity to save lives by ensuring it enables those who are able, the chance to work from home.
“We urge the mobile network operator to meet the consumer half way as many are relying on the internet to earn a living and support their families.
“Our recommendation is that these price hikes be aligned with people’s incomes and should be sensitive to the times we are currently in,” read the statement.
Some people are also accusing Econet of trying to sabotage the government’s introduction of the $50 banknote featuring liberation icon and spirit medium Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana, popularly known as just Mbuya Nehanda.
In an interview, Young Journalists Association spokesperson Leopold Munhende urged the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe to engage Econet and review data prices.
“There is a need for the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe to step in and show that indeed it is a necessary board in such cases.
“Of course we understand they are in business but in its pricing and profit Econet Wireless must understand that the internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity, a right which has to be afforded everyone.
“It will not be surprising if we are to learn NetOne has done the same.
“This is nothing short of crippling the livelihoods of millions who now earn a living online,” he said.
Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono however, asked what was stopping angry Econet users to switch to other noble networks.
“I have seen many tweets of angry Econet users.
“I want to genuinely understand something. We have 2 other mobile phone networks. What stops the disgruntled folks from switching networks? I assume it is a service right? How does Econet pay for that service delivery?” he asked. Nehanda Radio