Govt to punish NetOne looters | The Herald April 9, 2016
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
Government will crack the whip and ensure that those fingered in corrupt activities at NetOne will be brought to book as there will be no sacred cows, a Cabinet Minister has said. Information Communication and Technology Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira, told Senate on Thursday that NetOne had been making losses despite it being the second largest mobile network service provider after Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.
Econet is raking between $200 and $300 million in profits annually. He said the NetOne board had since instituted an audit to be conducted by the Auditor-General’s office and would not fold its arms on those that would have prejudiced the parastatal.
Minister Mandiwanzira was responding to Mashonaland Central Senator Damien Mumvuri (Zanu-PF), who wanted to know what Government was doing to address challenges at NetOne.
“I would like to inform this august House and the public that when we have been given an audit report from the Auditor-General, if there is somebody fingered as to having indulged in corrupt activities, we will take them to the police and ask for the arrest of the perpetrators.
“The monies, which would have been abused are public funds. Ways and means will have to be taken so that money is given back to the Government. If you accumulated some property, that property will be sold to refund Government,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.
“As a ministry, we are saying whoever has been fingered in corrupt activities is going to suffer the consequences. His Excellency, President Cde RG Mugabe gave us a mandate to perform and we will perform to the expectations. We are not going to be side-tracked or intimidated.”
The NetOne board has since sent on forced leave the company’s managing director Mr Reward Kangai and other senior officials after a preliminary audit showed that they might have prejudiced the parastatal.
Minister Mandiwanzira said Government would not interfere in the affairs of NetOne until it had been presented with the audit report.
“What really worries us is that we have three cellular telephone companies in this country, namely, NetOne which is owned by Government; Econet, which is privately owned and Telecel which may soon be a parastatal in the next two months. When we compare the first two companies, the best performer is Econet with eight million subscribers, followed by NetOne with four million subscribers.
“But when we look at the profits, which are raised by these companies, Econet makes about $200 million to $300 million per year, while NetOne is making a loss, yet they are supposed to make half of what Econet is making,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.
He said the recently appointed chief finance officer Mrs Sibusisiwe Ndlovu, had unearthed several irregularities that were potentially of a corrupt nature. The corrupt activities included companies, which were paid for some services that were never delivered to NetOne.
“Some finances were directed to different companies in contrast to those which had been awarded the tender. We have companies that supplied fuel and were supposed to be paid without showing proof of delivery of the fuel,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.
“Top executives were pursuing payment all the same. For instance, where payment of $187 000 was demanded, it was discovered that only $83 000 was due.” Responding to another question Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Christopher Mushohwe, said areas that had no broadcasting signals were being addressed in the country’s digitalisation programme.
Matabeleland South Senator, Tambudzani Mohadi wanted to know what Government was doing to address areas that had no reception. “The issue of radio and television inadequate coverage is, however, being addressed in the context of the Zimbabwe Digital Broadcasting Migration Project, which is currently being implemented by the ministry and is now slightly over 30 percent complete,” said Minister Mushohwe.