NetOne probe mired in factional fights

HARARE - A key player in NetOne Cellular (NetOne)’s subscriber-acquisition project with Zanu PF youths has accused suspended chairman Pupurai Togarepi of “sabotaging the initiative by projecting it as a factional venture”, as succession-linked fights intensify in President Robert Mugabe’s party.

According to controversial businessman Agrippa Masiyakurima, his Bopela Group (Bopela) was also being “smeared and targeted in the on-going review of the mobile phone company’s operations” on suspicions it was funding the Generation 40 (G40) group.

“…I donated five Golf 6 cars for a promotion… to get at least 500 000 Zanu PF youths onto the NetOne platform, so that (its) subscriber base increases by a significant figure,” he said in a letter copied to Mugabe’s office and various government offices.

“…Togarepi went ahead denouncing the move just after he had signed it. He accused… Saviour Kasukuwere, the national political commissar, of trying to… gain control of all… youths (by) recruiting them for a non-existent faction G40,” Masiyakurima said.

As a result, the 39-year-old civil contractor says an investigation into NetOne’s suspended chief executive Reward Kangai and several suppliers was nothing more than a witch-hunt — motivated by malice, and revenge over kickback demands he says he had rejected, hence an independent inquiry or commission was the best way forward to unpack the saga.

As it is, Masiyakurima claims he withdrew the cars after learning that Godwin Gomwe, Godfrey Tsenengamu and others were planning to “rig” the mobile phone company’s competition, and take the cars for themselves.

While Togarepi has “expressed shock” at the acerbic businessman’s allegations, he actually says he had fervently defended the tripartite arrangement amid overwhelming scepticism within Zanu PF.

“I supported it in all party meetings (even) when I was quizzed about its transparency. I was party to (it and as I) strongly believed in its possible impact to the… youth. I have never accused… Kasukuwere of (being part of) the said G40… and I don’t know how (he is) linked… to Bopela… because… I believe it was a genuine initiative...,” he said.

“My executive went around the country pushing for our members to support the initiative. I also encouraged some organisations I am associated with to support the initiative, so I am surprised why my comrade would want to drag me into some unknown feud,” Togarepi said, adding he was “not a factionalist and maybe some comrades wanted to provoke me into a fight”.

“I know Masiyakurima to be a sober businessman and I urge him to verify his facts before accusing innocent people. Unless someone convinces me that there is something untold about the tripartite arrangement..,” he said.

On the other hand, Gomwe and Tsenengamu were unreachable for comment since last week, but observers say the unfolding drama shows the proposed NetOne probe had turned political with the parties involved engaging in factional mudslinging widely linked to Mugabe’s succession.

In the meantime, the Mutare-born businessman has also sensationally claimed that he had handed about $7 000 to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s allies for a tournament called Gushungo Victory Cup, but has come under fire after asking for accountability over the money.

Masiyakurima not only says the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) was at some point unleashed on him, but was also being victimised by top State security agents for refusing to support the embattled Midlands godfather and said his detractors had even tried to plant drugs on him on a recent trip to Mozambique.

“All these accusations… directed at Kangai are baseless because they think NetOne is funding the First Family through Bopela… Kangai will never get a fair (probe) because (auditors) already have the results, which are being leaked through the State media,” Masiyakurima said.

Apart from spewing bile on Information Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira, the youthful businessman has not spared Alex Marufu’s board and specifically new NetOne chief financial officer Sibusisiwe Ndlovu.

While the ICT minister has previously told the Daily News that he had “no time to respond to flies” — in apparent reference to Masiyakurima’s incessant attacks and myriad allegations — the Nyanga South legislator assured Parliament last week that there will be no let-up on those who would have been fingered in corrupt activities at the mobile operator.

“I would like to inform… the public that when we have been given an audit report from the Auditor-General, if there is somebody fingered… in corrupt activities we will… ask for the arrest of the perpetrators,” Mandiwanzira said, adding they were not going to be intimidated by any sort of antics.

“The monies… abused are public funds. Ways and means will… be taken so that (it) is given back to the government. If you accumulated some property (those assets) will be sold to refund government,” the former broadcaster said, adding he had noted “some finances were directed to companies, which had not been awarded NetOne tenders”.

And as the saga rages, Masiyakurima has even written to the Institute of Chartered Accounts of Zimbabwe with a view of having Ndlovu investigated for unprofessional conduct.

According to the maverick businessman, he also believes his troubles have escalated after seemingly aligning with the first family by branding his cars with the faces of Mugabe, and his wife Grace.

“Some of my problems also emanated from the alleged donation of $91 000 to ... Mugabe as a birthday gift and an issue, which my enemies have amplified for their own gain,” Masiyakurima said.

On the alleged fleecing of NetOne through overpriced base stations, Masiyakurima says the issue does not arise as the “scope of works” for the Huawei Technologies mobile broadband (MBB) and previous tower erection projects had been revised, and each mast required a different foundation anyway.

If anything, the youthful businessman says, he was actually still owed by the State-owned company after pumping nearly $1,4 million of his own personal money to finance construction works under the MBB initiative — and under which he had completed 100 base stations in a record six months.

Comments (2)

its an open secret that all parastatal fund zanu and once the leader of the parastatals displays factional pigments that are not favored by the powers that be, he/she gets the boot. it happened to munacho at zesa, muchechetere at zbc, dube at psmas, jona at ministry of infor, mutsvangwa at minstry of wo vhets. keep in line with the rot and you loot unquestioned but, behold, the day you seek to reason and differ in opinion with the appointer...! these youngster millionaires are not businessmen because the way they present themselves to the media, be it social or formal, they are so short of acumen and deficient in proper business lingo that i find in the likes of strive or the shingis! these little dudes are used as zanu conduits/saga bags to handle dirty money and they think they are tycoons!

SaManyika Chaiye - 13 April 2016

While it is true that parastatals do fund government activities, it is not true that they should be used by line ministries to loot and spirit into their own foreign bank accounts.

Muzezuru - 14 April 2016

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