NetOne board squabbles escalate

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Michael Tome and Elliot Ziwira
NETONE board members that tendered resignations letters last week have cited lack of professionalism and tenets of good corporate governance at the mobile network operator by some board members as the reason behind their departure, The Herald  Finance & Business can reveal.

The mobile network operator has been rocked by resignation of its board chairman – James Mutizwa, audit committee chair, Sibonile Dhliwayo and human resources committee chair, Keumetsi Mpandawana – that are citing lack of objectivity in the conduct of business by some of the members.

However, the board’s vice chairperson, Ms Susan Mutangadura, immediately dismissed the claims by the trio, arguing it was the three’s democratic right to express their views after departure.

The three are said to have quit the board owing to lack of professionalism displayed by four other board members led by Ms Mutangadura.

The four are allegedly being blamed for wreaking havoc at the company.

They are being accused of contesting the results of five forensic audits namely NetOne Statutory Audit for 2019 Financial Statements (Grant Thornton), Deloitte Forensic Audit for 2015 – 2019, ZACC audit on fuel procurement and security payments and ZIMRA audit that did not find any misconduct by the incumbent chief executive officer Lazarus Muchenje.

The audits exonerated Mr Muchenje from any wrongdoing.

Board chairperson Mr Mutizwa on Monday declined to comment adding Ms Dhliwayo’s responses and contents of the resignation letter summed it all. A resignation letter in our possession by one of the board members, Ms Dhliwayo cited unprincipled work ethics as the reason behind the trio’s departure from the State-owned telecommunications company.

“The reason behind my resignation is that the board is being run in an unprofessional manner, which makes it difficult for me to render my services and responsibilities in a professional and objective manner,” she said.

Upheavals at the State-owned enterprise have lately gone sour.

Sources close to the development reveal that Ms Mutangadura, along with the other three, are not in accord with the outcomes of five internal audits by the company, a position that has become regressive to the company’s operations and sustained turnaround.

“Productive time has been spent going back and forth on unsubstantiated accusations thereby wasting time which could be used on other result yielding operations,” said a source close to the developments.

Contacted for comment, Ms Mutangadura said she was not in a position to divulge more information about the on goings alluding that only the shareholder reserved the right.

“I’m not at liberty to disclose much information but as far as I am concerned the board was being run in a professional way,” said Ms Mutangadura.

NetOne is riding the tide after recovering from a $77 million dollar loss to post a $10 million profit in 2018, reflecting an improvement in terms of viability under the stewardship of its current chief executive officer.

Two years after Mr Muchenje’s appointment, the once ailing State-owned telecommunications company continues to  navigate the industry seeking to achieve a viable business entity as entailed by the recent back-to-basics approach that is mainly directed towards building a competitive telecommunications company.

Minister of Information Communication Technology Postal and Courier Services, Dr Jenfan Muswere is yet to formally communicate any changes at the State-owned enterprise.