Save WhatsApp from the clutches of MTN and Vodacom

Sasha Wyatt-Minter says the cellphone companies are losing profits, and want regulation

#SaveWhatsApp petition launched by

An online petition aimed at preventing the South African Government from interfering in the popular messaging system WhatsApp has been launched under the hashtag #SaveWhatsApp. 

This follows a call by MTN and Vodacom for the Government to regulate WhatsApp (as well as Skype and similar services). They are claiming that their profits are being undermined by 'unfair competition' from the popular messaging system. Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communications and Postal Services has agreed to hold hearings on the subject.

They claim that they are losing profits to these alternative communication systems - systems which help the people of South Africa stay in touch with friends & family, build & manage businesses, and communicate internationally.

Well, of course they are losing profits! They have been overcharging (among the highest cell phone rates and SMS rates in the world) since they were founded.

They call it 'unfair competition'. We call it progress, and an opportunity to escape from over-priced mobile phone call and SMS charges.

WhatsApp is particularly popular amongst young South Africans and the less affluent because it enables users to send free SMSs and make free phone calls to friends and family accross the country and the world. It is also used by business people.

If the government really wants to anger the people of South Africa (especially the young), they will go along with MTN and Vodacom call for regulation.

If they want to support their citizens, they will tell the service providers to get lost.

The WhatsApp service is virtually free. It offers free calls and free SMSs. However users still need to use very expensive (by international standards) data bought from the cell phone giants.

The petition, launched by the popular online woman's magazine , can be found at 

The petition will be sent to the Portfolio Committee on Communications and Postal Services, The Minister of Communications, and to the President of South Africa.

(Note: the petition was signed by more than 5000 people in the first 24 hours)

Sasha Wyatt-Minter