Subscribers to DStv’s Multichoice pay-TV in cash-strapped Zimbabwe are having to pay their monthly fees in US dollars (or other ‘hard’ currencies). Now, a local lawyer is asking the nation’s High Court for an order to compel Multichoice to accept payment in more traditional forms.
James Majatame of Takawira Law Chambers is seeking the court-issued declaratory order against Skynet Private Ltd (Multichoice Zimabwe’s local trading business) which would require Multichoice to accept the other methods of payment permissible in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe.
The lawyer is arguing that Multichoice is acting illegally by not accepting subscriptions by way of swipe, eco-cash, bank transfer, bond notes and coins, preferring US dollars only. “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.”
He further argued that that because Zimbabwe was experiencing cash problems, Multichoice’s conduct had an effect of promoting a black market. “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,” added Majatame.
Multichoice, according to local reports, has yet to respond to the application.