NetOne CEO Lazarus Muchenje

NetOne CEO Lazarus Muchenje and seven other senior managers were recently released on bail following their arrest by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission last Friday.

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Harare magistrate Lanzini Ncube set bail at Z$3,000 for Muchenje and six others, while Sharmaine Kadenhe, a former legal trainee at the country’s second biggest cellular network, was freed on Z$700 bail, the magistrate said because she had left the company.

Muchenje is jointly charged with board member Paradzai Chakona; interconnection and roaming manager Tawanda Sibanda, 49; acting chief finance officerTinashe Severa; chief technical officer Darlington Gutu, 53; acting head legal affairs Tanyaradzwa Chingombe; head of innovation an product development Spencer Manguwa, 43, and Kadenhe.

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The eight have been charged with multiple counts of criminal abuse of office as public officers. They were remanded to June 2.

Muchenje recruited personal security guards and also hired top of the range vehicles without board approval, according to prosecutor Michael Reza who opposed bail.

The NetOne boss is also accused together with Gutu and Chingombe of illegally contracting an international company ad offering discounts without board approval.

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“Accused one, four and six corruptly caused NetOne to enter into a contract with Bankai International Pvt LTD of Mauritius and Bridgevoice INC, a company incorporated under laws of the United States of America, to sell NetOne airtime overseas by connecting Bankai to NetOne prepaid platform,” said the state.

Reza alleged Bankai was given 20 percent airtime discount which was above 11 percent discount the company was giving to its dealers.

It is also alleged Muchenje was getting an illegal housing benefit which saw NetOne losing US$363,875.

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“Accused 2 (Sibanda) represented NetOne as the lessor and Muchenje as the lessee. An arbitrary rental of US$1,000 was agreed by the parties although they had been advised by Pam Holding Properties and Kennan Properties that the rentals for the house in question was between US$2,500 and US$3,500. As a result of this, Muchenje is enjoying an unjustified housing benefit for the period extending from January 2019 to January 2020 at the expense of NetOne Cellular,” said Reza.

Muchenje also allegedly acquired personal security and misrepresented on documentation that the security guards would offer 24-hour protection to the NetOne building when in actual fact the guards provided security only to him.