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Court Blocks NetOne Executives Bid

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Magistrate Mr Lazini Ncube has blocked 7 NetOne executives’s bid for early freedom, dismissing their application for refusal of further placement on remand.

The seven had argued on the basis that the state lacked essential elements that formulate the charges against them, as they denied that they were not public officers hence can not be answerable for contravening the same statutes.

Through their lawyers, the NetOne executives challenged that State failed to establish how they were answerable to the offence since NetOne was represented by board of directors.

The appeal was also thrown out on a technicality as state argued that the seven were supposed to have appealed at an upper court since its application for placing them on remand was successful on the day they first appeared in court.

The accused six executives and board member ; Lazarus Muchenje, Tawanda Sibanda (49), Tinashe Severa (43), Darlington Gutu (53), Spencer Manguwa (43), Tanyaradzwa Chingombe (28), Charmaine Kadenhe and Paradzai Chakona and , are facing criminal abuse of office charges as public officers.

Muchenje, who is the NetOne chief executive, is independently charged as the CEO for advancing himself holiday perks, housing and furniture allowance and hiring of a service car while his was down, while jointly charged with interconnection and roaming manager Sibanda, acting chief finance officer Severa, chief technology officer Gutu, chief operating officer Manguwa, acting head of legal services Chingombe and Kadenhe on the first count.

It involves financing of equipment allegedly offsetting the cost against illegally discounted services with a Mauritian company.

On the second count, Muchenje is jointly charged with former NetOne board member, Chakona, over an unapproved lease agreement at a significantly discounted rent.

Former NetOne CEO Mr Reward Kangai to date is however still leaving in an seperate fully paid and mantained NetOne house, though he was illegally sacked from the same mobile network.

The State, in its response, said the seven executives and Kadenhe, should have challenged their placement on remand on the date they initially appeared in court.

Magistrate Mr Lazini Ncube ordered that the issues being raised must be looked into during trial, meaning the matter could not be thrown out on that basis but rather must be argued on the same

“The issues should be raised at trial since they are triable,” he said. “The issue that there is a board representing them should also be reserved for trial not at this stage. They will be looked at when evidence will be presented on status of company.”

They will return to court on July 21, 2020 for routine remand. The State alleges that sometime in 2019, Muchenje, Sibanda and Severa held meetings with Paragi Agarwal, a director of Bankai (Private) Ltd, which is a corporation in Mauritius.Close

Agarwal allegedly purported to be representing 6D (Pvt) Ltd, an Indian company which had supplied NetOne with a service delivery platform and USSD server gateway and was owed US$1 million by NetOne. Agarwal proposed to the trio that NetOne should provide nine million minutes on-net voice termination service to Bankai (Pvt) Ltd, valued at US$1 million at an interconnection rate of US$0.13 per minute.

But the State argued that the interconnection rate of US$0.13 was against the interconnection rate stipulated in the 2008 telecommunication regulations, which barred Zimbabwean telecommunication services from accepting less than the minimum international termination of US$0.20.

Bankai would pay for the discounted net voice terminations minutes by offsetting the debt owed to 6D by NetOne.

Muchenje instructed Sibanda and Severa to cause Nyaradzai Shoko to initiate paperwork for the agreement.

6D was contacted, but through an email, it indicated that Agarwal was no longer working for 6D and the company indicated it was not part to any deal negotiated by Agarwal.

However, Muchenje and his accomplices went ahead with the deal, it is alleged. Muchenje instructed Sibanda, Severa and Kadenhe to exclude the clause that indicated offsetting of the 6D debt.

Bankai however recently came out guns blazing stating that the claims were frivolous lies and demanded retraction for their image tarnished, while they threatened unspecified action

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