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NetOne probe on board members widens

15 May, 2020 - 00:05 0 Views
NetOne probe on board members widens

eBusiness Weekly

Martin Kadzere
Police have widened the probe into alleged criminal abuse of office by NetOne acting chairperson Susan Mutangadura to include another board member Dr Ranga Mavhunga, whose company FMC Finance is alleged to have entered into a business partnership with the State-owned mobile operator without declaring his interests.

Already, the police are keen to investigate alleged criminal abuse of office by Mutangadura, who last week filed an urgent chamber application seeking to block the investigators to have access to company’s documents related to the appointment of Retired Justice Moses Chinhengo, her business associate to preside over the disciplinary hearing of Lazarus Muchenje who was suspended in February this year.

The High Court dismissed Mutangadura’s request as not urgent. Last week, police widened the probe to establish the nature of partnership between Dr Mavhunga’s FMC and NetOne and if there was a declaration of interests. Again, NetOne filed another application for the stay of execution of a warrant of search and seizure issued by Harare senior magistrate Tendai Muchini to the police.

Detective Assistant Inspector Collius Mushambi, Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga, Senior magistrate Muchini and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe, were cited as first, second, third and fourth respondents respectively.

In a founding affidavit, deposed by Mutangadura on behalf of NetOne, she argued the warrant of search and seizure was invalid for warrant of compliance with the law in that: It relates to information, which clearly goes beyond the scope of the interest.

In contravention of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, the police officer to execute the warrant of search and seizure is not identified.

NetOne also argued that in contravention of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, the place of where the warrant of search and seizure is to be executed is not identified.

It does not also set out territorial application and as such is susceptible to be executed outside the jurisdiction of the third respondent.

“The warrant of search and seizure is unnecessary in that the applicant (NetOne) has already answered the first and second respondent’s cause of investigation, which is whether or not the applicant’s board member, Dr Mavhuga declared his interest in a certain transaction,” reads part of the founding affidavit deposited by Mutangadura.

“The warrant is a blatant violation of the applicant’s constitutional right to privacy, which is guaranteed by Section 57 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as it allows the first and the second respondent or the police generally to obtain information, which goes way beyond the scope of their purported investigation.

“Further and in any event, it ignores the fact that the board minutes, resolution and declarations contain other information which is not related to the valued added service of agreement.

“The warrant authorises the police to obtain board minutes, resolutions and declarations for the entire period of January 2019 to June 2019. This goes beyond what the police need as it contains other confidential material not connected to with the subject matter of the alleged investigations. Further, applicant has provided the first and the second respondent Dr Mavhunga’s declaration,” added Mutangadura. The High Court has since ordered the police to be specific in their request on issues such as the address where the search and seizure order would be executed.

Business Weekly understands Dr Mavhunga, without NetOne Board approval, or the approval of the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, illegally forced NetOne to work with his company FMC. It is alleged the agreement between NetOne and FMC was never approved by the board or by the line ministry. It is further alleged that James Mutizwa, former board chairman may have discovered the anomaly by Dr Mavhunga, triggering speculation that the later could have been behind the resignation of the former. Mutizwa resigned in February alongside other two members.

It is also alleged that Dr Mavhunga stopped NetOne’s OneMoney from negotiations with Mybucks and Getbucks, which wanted to partner OneMoney. GetBucks and Mybucks would have been competing with FMC on the OneMoney platform.

Mybucks would have brought at least 500 000 new customers to NetOne’s OneMoney platform, which would have resulted in a doubling of the OneMoney customer base.

“Dr Mavhunga appears to be breaking corporate governance rules by not declaring his interest in writing to the board and also to the line ministry, as well as by interfering in decisions that affect FMC at NetOne. Furthermore, these allegations show that he has prejudiced NetOne of a lot of revenue as MyBucks would have given OneMoney more customers and consequently more revenues.  Clearly this is an abuse of office that must be dealt with to bring sanity at NetOne,” said the source.

However, Mutangadura believes the investigations were a calculated onslaught driven by “ulterior motives.”

She argues the investigations also are targeting the board by making allegations to discredit the members.

“The lack of bonafide in the alleged criminal investigations is confirmed by the fact that on 21st of April 2020, another police officer by the name Assistant Detective Inspector Paul Muchemi, also obtained a search and seizure warrant for information purportedly relating to the services that the applicant obtained from (Rtd) Justice Chinhengo.”

“This effort also entails a clear attempt take away from the applicant loads of confidential material from its control for the purpose the applicant is not aware of,” said Mutangadura.

 

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