Vodacom halts SMS in Mozambique

Maputo - Vodacom Group [JSE:VOD] group subsidiary Vodacom Mozambique suspended its clients' text messaging capabilities under orders of the Mozambican government, independent media reported on Friday.

The National Communications Institute of Mozambique (INCM), which regulates telecommunications in the southern African country, sent a letter to Vodacom Mozambique and state operator mCel on Monday ordering them to suspend text messaging capabilities, reported Mediafax newssheet.

“The two carriers obeyed the instruction on the conviction that it had been given by the government as a decision framed in terms of national security,” the newssheet reported.

A viral text message campaign led to price hike riots in Mozambican capital Maputo and nearby city Matola last week during which at least 13 people were killed in clashes between police and protesters.

From Monday through Thursday it was impossible to send text messages from most Mozambican numbers, although the government already on Tuesday announced subsidies for bread and a reduction in government expenditure.

Contract users could still send text messages after both operators protested to the INCM, according to the newssheet.

Mediafax editor Fernando Mbanze confirmed the newspaper had a copy of the letter, but refused to divulge the name of the writer.

“The letter exists,” he told Sapa. “It was sent to both operators.” Mozambican Minister of Transport and Communication Paulo Zucula earlier this week denied having given orders that texting be suspended.

However, Mbanze asserted that, since the minister heads the INCM, he “logically” had to have known about the letter.

Both operators earlier acknowledged the networks had experienced “technical difficulties.” State-owned cellphone operator mCel declined to comment on the issue.

Vodacom did not reply to enquiries.

-  Sapa 

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