PIUS RUGONZIBWA, 14th July 2009 The government has decided to retain 100 per cent shares from Zain (formerly Celtel International), five days after it okayed the withdrawal of the Canadian Saskatel International Inc from running Tanzania Telecommunication Company Ltd (TTCL), Daily News has established. The move was also confirmed by the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Professor Peter Msolla, during an exclusive phone interview with the 'Daily News' yesterday. In 2001, the government sold 35 shares to the then Celtel International, but sources within TTCL say instead of Zain working as a shareholder in the company, it started working as a competitor trying to block TTCL from dealing with the mobile phones business. The sources said that Zain had written a quit notice to treasury, expressing their intention to offload its 35 shares. Let them leave, this is yet another opportunity for TTCLmanage on its own and I can assure you it is definitely going to manage and the government will fully support it, he said in a jubilant tone. Without mentioning reasons for withdrawal, Prof. Msolla said he was aware Zain had written a letter to Treasury on the intention to quit and the government, which is a majority shareholder, would meet with the management of the firm next Friday for final discussions on the matter. He, however, said that the government had some proposals which would be tabled at the Friday meeting.the minister said the government has proposed to hand over TTCL to local experts, retain 35 Zain shares and sell some to workers to boost their morale and prepare them for the ownership of the firm. According to the proposals, part of the 35 shares will be sold to the public through Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) and others to the workers of TTCL. In my opinion, it was wrong for this firm to be handed over to these foreign companies. I am confident that our local people can manage it efficiently if we support them and we are going to do so, he said. Looking determined, Professor Msolla said the government was now ready to guarantee the new management secure bank loans to revive the firms operations and that already several banks had shown interest to guarantee the company. He mentioned the banks as the National Microfinance Bank Ltd (NMB), Exim Bank and another from China. Apart from that move, he said, TTCL will also get another financial boost amounting to 11.9bn/- which were initially government debts to the firm. The government had a debt of 9.2bn/- as telephone charges by its various ministries and 2.7bn/- for running the Postal and Telecommunication Institute. The money will be paid directly to TTCL. All these efforts aim at enabling the firm to sustainably stand on its own, he pointed out. Prof. Msolla said the government had learned a lesson from the past TTCL managements and that it wont allow past mistakes to happen again. The government will not hire any other foreign management or company to run TTCL unless it is such a special position that can not be filled by local people and we will maintain this stand, he said. Dr Naomi Katunzi, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology, confirmed to have received Zains letter but was not ready to give more details. She also confirmed on next Fridays shareholders' meeting. Telecommunications and Workers Union of Tanzania (TEWUTA) has been asking the government for the termination of Zains shareholding contract. TEWUTA Secretary General Mr Yunus Ndaro was recently quoted by the press as saying the Union believed there was a conflict of interest in Zain shareholding deal with the government and that it was hampering the TTCLs development.