Zimbabwe Republic Police CID serous frauds unit is currently investigating NetOne acting chairperson, Ms Susan Mutangadura, over suspected criminal abuse of office.
Susan Mutangadura is alleged to have appointed her suspected business acquaintance — a retired judge,Moses Chinhengo to preside over a disciplinary hearing of suspended CEO Lazarus Muchenje, yet she did not declare conflict of interest.
State argues that she did not at any given point declare to the board that she had a past relationship with the appointee.
The same retired judge is also the same arbitrator who presided over Muchenje when he was initially suspended as the CEO by the past board which was dismissed by former minister Kazembe Kazembe.
The appointment of the judge had already raised eyebrows given that Ms Mutangadura, the complainant against Mr Muchenje — who is on suspension facing various allegations, including incompetence — is a panellist at Africa Institute of Mediation and Arbitration (AIMA), a company founded by the judge (name supplied).
It, however, emerged last week that NetOne has filed an urgent chamber application seeking to bar investigators — who had obtained a search-and-seize order — from accessing relevant documents citing confidentiality.
It was not clear why NetOne is going all the way to file an urgent chamber at a time they could simply have simply supplied the investigators with information they had requested.
“It is very strange that in the same investigation, Susan Mutangadura is the accused yet NetOne has allowed her to be the company representative, at a point the board must have appointed someone else respond on its behalf” said a concerned source.
Speaking with the Herald, Ms Mutangadura said she could not comment over the matter
“Unfortunately, I cannot comment at the moment for professional reasons,” said Ms Mutangadura
Last week some investigators from the Criminal Investigations Department (Serious Frauds) launched a probe into potential abuse of office by Ms Mutangadura for appointing her “business associate”.
“The police got the order to search and seize relevant documents, which they needed for their investigations,” said a source, who requested not to be named because the matter is now under judicial consideration.
“However, NetOne made an urgent chamber application seeking to interdict the investigators from accessing the documents.”
Ms Mutangadura was authorised by the NetOne board to appoint a disciplinary hearing authority to preside over proceedings of cases involving Mr Muchenje and Mr Severa through a resolution dated February 20 2019.
She then used powers granted to her by the resolution to appoint the judge to preside over the hearing.
A notification letter addressed to Mr Muchenje in March announced the development.
It is believed that the appointment of the judge was in violation of Section 34 of the Public Entities and Governance Act, which states that where a board member or a senior staff member of a public entity knows or has any reason to believe that any of his or her public associates has acquired or holds direct or indirect pecuniary interests in any matter that is under the consideration by the board or that is or, to his or her knowledge, is likely to be the subject matter of a contract between the public entity and any other person, the board member or senior staff shall forthwith disclose to the entity’s board.
Ms Mutangadura took over from former board chairperson Mr James Mutizwa, who alongside two other directors resigned early February this year after allegedly being pressured to do.
Further, two other board members, including Dr Douglas Mamvura, are understood to be in the firing line.
JUSTICE Moses Chinhengo is one of Zimbabwe’s most respected judges who famously ruled against the then Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, called a Presidential proclamation illegal and even threatened to send the Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede to jail
The former High Court judge, in 2017 approached the High Court seeking a decree of divorce against his wife, Josephine Judith Hatidani Chinhengo (nee Chatikobo) over irreconcilable marital disputes.