G-Mobile triumphs over MACRA in licence case

The High Court of Zumba, Malawi, has refused to revoke the mobile telecommunications license granted to Globally Advanced Integrated Mobile Networks Limited (G-Mobile).

The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has rescinded the license after G-Mobile failed to exceed several of the company’s start-up deadlines.

A Zumba Supreme Court judge found MACRA’s decision unconstitutional.

Judge Godfrey Moisi said, “A decision of a public authority may be overturned if the authority has acted without jurisdiction, has exceeded its jurisdiction or has failed to comply with the rules of natural justice where such rules are applicable.”

He said that MACRA’s decision to revoke the license on September 20, 2010 was extremists, is unreasonable, invalid and should be abolished but they said they could impose a new penalty as long as it was within the law.

MACRA Public Relations Officer Zadziko Mankhambo announced on Monday, 20 September 2010 that it has rescinded the operating license it had previously granted to G-Mobile.

MACRA said the company had been given a number of deadlines it failed to meet — including the September 20, 2010 deadline.

‘no choice’

“When we noticed that there was nothing in terms of operation, we had no choice but to revoke the license because we had the authorization as per the powers given to us,” Mankhambo told the Biz community at the time.

MACRA initially imposed a fine of US$6.95 million on June 20, 2010 after G-Mobile failed to roll it out on March 20, 2010.

The Supreme Court’s ruling was consistent with memoranda of attorney for G-Mobile Edwin Banda who told the court that MACRA’s decision was outside its legal jurisdiction.

“… [MACRA] He did not have any powers to revoke the license or force revocation as a condition of granting the license.”

Prior to the ruling, MACRA’s attorney, Kalekeni Kaphale, argued that G-Mobile’s lawsuit with the court for judicial review over the matter was overturned because it had delayed filing it.

He said, “… Requests for judicial review were supposed to be submitted within three months from the time the decision was made, but that was not the case.”

However, the court also rejected this.

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