End of legal battle between CRAN, MTC in sight

Judgment on 20 July 2022

08 November 2021 | Justice

Windhoek • [email protected]

The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) and Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) presented their final oral arguments in the High Court in Windhoek last Thursday.
According to court documents filed by MTC's legal representatives on 11 October, the ratification of section 23 of the Communications Act no. 8 of 2009, which was declared unconstitutional in the High Court three years ago, is being questioned.
The article was amended and came into effect on 11 June 2018.
The original article gave CRAN the freedom to determine itself what percentage of licensee levies could be recovered.
According to the Supreme Court's ruling, a minimum and maximum limit had to be imposed on the percentage of levies and clear guidelines had to be put in place.
MTC's legal representative, Adv. Frank Pelser, argued that these two principles had not been complied with. CRAN’s legal representative, Sisa Namandje, said the authority’s regulations are adequate as it contains guidelines and stipulates a maximum limit of 1.65% for levies.
Pelser said CRAN cannot choose their own restriction. “If they (CRAN) can choose the restriction on levy themselves, how will one prevent them from changing it again at a later stage? Parliament must be responsible for the restrictions.”
Pelser also put CRAN’s regulations under the magnifying glass, saying it was not enough.

Outstanding levies
The lawsuit follows after the court banned CRAN in June this year from implementing its decision of 23 March 2021, which stipulates that MTC's application for a spectrum licence would not be considered until the latter pays the N$100 million in outstanding levies that it believes owed to the regulator.
CRAN alleges the annulment of the levies placed on the 56 telecommunications providers, radio stations and TV establishments registered with the regulator only came into force on the day of the ruling (11 June 2018).
As such, the regulator insists that Telecom and MTC still owe N$67 million and N$ 100 million respectively, which were apparently outstanding on the date on which the levies were declared void. “It is not that MTC is not willing to pay the money or want to delay the process, but they have the right to question its legality. We just want to determine whether the amendment to section 23 has been implemented,” Pelser said.
Judge Harald Geier will rule on 20 July 2022.

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