Econet Global’s ultimate owner is TSMI, which used to be Tsitsi and Strive Masiyiwa’s Investment company. This company is now registered in an even more secretive tax haven, British Virgin Island.
Analysts from the Investigative Dashboard which helped The Insider to piece together the Econet ownership structure say one of the most interesting shareholders of Econet is the Special Purpose Vehicle that now owns 1.87 percent of Econet Wireless. It used to own 2.95 percent.
They say SPVs are usually used to hide Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) or to divert equity. Econet declined to disclose the directors of the SPV saying it was not at liberty to do so.
“Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited is a publicly traded and when investors buy Econet shares on the Stock Exchange, they are at liberty to trade under investment vehicles that best suit their governance structures,” the company said.
“Due diligence is performed at initial account opening and periodically to monitor shareholders for compliance risk. Details of directors of our investors remain the responsibility of those shareholders and we are not at liberty to disclose these details to third parties.”
But it might not be the ownership of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe that made Masiyiwa panic. It might be the operations of one of his Mauritius registered companies, Econet Media, that Masiyiwa is trying to run away from.
Econet Media owned Kwese Satellite TV which Econet shutdown on 5 August thus depriving “thousands of Zimbabweans” who had embraced and welcomed into their homes and offices.
It is not clear how many people were affected by the shutdown but Econet Media had operations in 13 countries.
In its 2018 annual report Econet said about Kwese TV: “Through our multi-channel and multi-platform digital media products, we are delivering top entertainment programmes to millions of Zimbabweans on mobile phones, tablets and other platforms, everywhere – on the go. The launch of Kwese TV has created employment opportunities in excess of 2 500 technites.”
The shutdown was, therefore, was a terrible blow to Econet subscribers who had invested in satellite dishes and decoders provided by the company.
Perhaps this is the reason why Masiyiwa is distancing himself from the ownership of Econet as to most Kwese subscribers this was daylight robbery.
This was not something, a successful billionaire and philanthropist, would want to be associated with.
But then a lot of people would frankly tell you that Econet, which to them is synonymous with Strive Masiyiwa, has been short-changing its clients for years and has been getting away with it just like it is getting away with short-changing Kwese TV subscribers.