NetOne suspends CEO


Shamiso Dzingire, Business Reporter
STATE-OWNED mobile network operator, NetOne, has suspended its chief executive officer Mr Lazarus Muchenje with immediate effect.

The company’s board chair Mr Peter Chingoka yesterday confirmed the suspension of Mr Muchenje but would not be drawn into divulging the reasons behind the suspension of the NetOne boss.

“It’s true (Mr Muchenje’s suspension with immediate effect and without benefits) but I am constrained to say more. I am sure you understand,” he said while responding to questions from Business Chronicle.

“Mr Muchenje has been suspended without benefits pending a hearing”.

Meanwhile, NetOne managing director for the mobile financial unit Mr Nkosinathi Ncube will be the firm’s acting chief executive officer.

Mr Muchenje was appointed NetOne chief executive officer on April 1 this year taking over from Mr Reward Kangai who was dismissed in September 2016.

The former NetOne boss was sacked for allegedly looting $11 million from the mobile phone service provider through Firstel Cellular, a company that he owns together with the firm’s other executives.

The parastatal’s board, which at the time was led by Mr Alex Marufu, resolved to fire Mr Kangai after a forensic audit linked him to several underhand dealings, including flagrant disregard of procedural airtime distribution and salary payment.

Following his appointment to the helm of the mobile network operator, Mr Muchenje was expected to stabilise the firm and increase its earnings.

A fortnight ago, Mr Muchenje was reported to have, under unclear circumstances, fired the company’s nine executives, including Mr Brian Mutandiro who was the acting chief executive officer following the departure of Mr Kangai.

Last week, Mr Muchenje was reported to have reinstated the fired executives following a directive from the board.

He was now in the process of suing six board members, the nine fired executives, Information Communication Technology and Cyber security Minister Supa Mandiwanzira and the Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet for allegedly breaching corporate governance rules.