Zimbabwe approves SpaceX’s Starlink license, or did they?

Starlink’s launch in Zimbabwe may have been a false start. Over the weekend President Emmerson Mnangagwa took to X (formerly Twitter) to announce he has approved the license, however it turns out he did that without the proper authority.

According to a report from The Zimbabwean, President Mnangagwa approved the license even though the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority was still deliberating Starlink’s application.

The president’s move appears to have been a favor for his protégé Wiknell Chivayo, who is believed to be the sole distributor of satellite services in the country.

On X, the President said:

I’m pleased to announce that I have approved the licensing of Starlink by POTRAZ to provide advanced internet and related digital processing services in Zimbabwe through its sole and exclusive partner, IMC Communications (Pvt) Ltd.

However, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority provided this quote in response:

We have learned that a message circulating on social media purports to be coming from the President (Mnangagwa) on his approval of the Starlink license. This is confusing because we at POTRAZ are still deliberating on Starlink.

The announcement by the President was strange for a few reasons. Typically, the Information Communication Technology Minister makes these announcements. In addition, these announcements are customarily issued via official releases, not through social media posts. So, it is very much unclear whether Starlink can launch in Zimbabwe or not.

We have not seen a comment from the President yet, but we know Starlink’s launch may be delayed as the President and his authority deal with the fallout of this mess.

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