Ex-NetOne Boss Faces Four Charges

FORMER NetOne chief executive, Lazarus Muchenje, will now stand trial on four different charges where he is jointly charged with other company employees on criminal abuse of office.

This comes after the State decided to separate the charges depending on how the offences were committed.

The other employees jointly charged with Muchenje are Darlington Gutu, Spencer Manguwa, Sharmaine Kadende, Tawanda Sibanda, Tinashe Severa, Paradza Mutandwa Chakona and Tanyaradzwa Chingombe.

Sibanda was NetOne interconnection and roaming manager, Severa was the acting chief finance officer, Gutu was chief technology officer, Manguwa was the chief operating officer, Chingombe was acting head of legal and Chakona is a former board member.

On the first set of charges, Muchenje is appearing on his own answering to three counts of criminal abuse of office with an alternative fraud charge.

Muchenje is alleged to have instructed NetOne head administration Mr Innocent Mukandatsama to buy him household furniture worth more than US$620 000 without board approval.

He is also alleged to have ordered the company to hire three Toyota Fortuners for his personal use between January 2019 and February 2020.

The cars were hired on separate occasions for US$32 869, US$133 080 and US$59 976 respectively.

Muchenje is also alleged to have ordered NetOne to pay more than US$50 000 for his personal security services offered by a local security company.

Muchenje is expected to appear in court on November 23 for trial on the above charges.

He is also appearing separately with Darlington Gutu, Spencer Manguwa and Sharmaine Kadende on criminal abuse of office. They are alleged to have entered into a number range provision agreement with a Mauritanian firm, Bankai International (Pvt) Limited.

The agreement reportedly saw NetOne Cellular supplying 2 000 virtual lines, which were configured on NetOne Nokia Mobile Switching Centre without Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) and subscriber details without board approval.

They were also alleged to have by-passed the Home Location Centre violating the Postal and Telecommunication regulations.

They will be tried on December 2.

Muchenje is also being jointly charged with Tawanda Chakona in a case where they allegedly resolved to extend housing allowance to him and rented him a house in one of Harare’s affluent suburbs for US$364 000 without NetOne board resolution during the time of his tenure in office.

The duo will be tried on November 11.

Muchenje is also jointly charged with Sibanda, Severa and Kadende after they are alleged to have connived to allow NetOne Cellular (Pvt) Limited to enter into a Unilateral Buy Agreement with Bankai International for supply of nine million minutes for voice calls for US$1 million.

As part of the agreement, the quarter is said to have authorised the connection of a Telco Bridge at NetOne Data Centre and that it be configured to allow Bankai International.

Muchenje will also be appearing in court along with Gutu and Chingombe on allegations of having signed an International Top-Up Agreement with Bankai International and Bridgevo International where they were to supply airtime for resale outside the country at a 20 percent discount.

They are expected in court on December 8 for trial.

Muchenje and his accomplices appeared before magistrate Mr Trynos Utahwashe.

Mr George Manokore prosecuted.

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