George Kadzima’s dream as a civil servant working in Mhangura, of joining the world of technology through owning a laptop looked within grasp when Zimbabwe had just heralded the arrival of a “local manufacturer of laptops” that branded itself as Nhava.
He was one of the many civil servants who were duped into paying an initial deposit of more than $200 last year in July and never got the laptops from Nhava Global, which was launched amid pomp and fanfare in 2009.
A month long investigation following a tip-off from an insider privy to the scam, revealed, those few who fortunately got laptops were not aware the laptops where imported from China and only rebranded as Nhava.
Nhava Group has reportedly made a name leading the nation into believing they manufacture, produce and assemble laptops.
In their company’s mission statement they state boldly: “Nhava exists to empower, educate and enable everyone, everywhere to have access to a computer. We manufacture, produce and assemble. We sell our laptops at very reasonable prices and have very flexible payment schemes to suit your needs.”
Kadzima, a teacher and is on a leaked list given to NewsDay of civil servants who never got what they paid for, revealed: “I paid with many others for the laptop on July 2, 2010. The initial promise, as per an advert in the newspapers that called for civil servants to this scheme, was that after paying a deposit one would then get their laptop in three weeks.
“It never came three months down the line. When I asked them why it was taking this long I never got a satisfactory answer. Explanations ranged from airport delays to Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) needing to be paid for parts coming from South Africa that were needed for the assembling of the machines,” Kadzima said.
He only got a refund in January this year after threatening to involve the police.
“The $190 I had paid as my deposit came back with no interest added to it. And for someone to do that to a person whose salary is as pathetic as what civil servants are getting was inhumane.”
NewsDay has it on good authority that Nhava Global used the media to add credibility to their operations stating they wanted to invest $250 million in Kenya and that in Australia their products were on high demand.
Questioned on the issue, Tinashe Shangwa the chief executive officer of Nhava Global was singing a different tune: “The delay in giving the civil servants their laptops is only down to about nine people out of 100. That is what I can say on that matter.”
Confronted to confirm if indeed they manufacture laptops as they told media and government officials when they launched, Shangwa said: “We do not manufacture the laptops here. What we simply do is that we design and we then give our partners who do the rest for us.”
Pressed to reveal the name of the company that manufactures these laptops Shangwa said: “Well, I cannot reveal that name. That is what we agreed with the partners.”
A thorough investigation then showed the laptops were actually low priced Chinese models like Crossover, Mist, Viara, Companion and Laserone that are later stamped with a Nhava logo.
Like most televisions sold here in Zimbabwe that carry renowned labels like LG and Sony, most are actually Chinese brands that are rebranded.
While it is common for techology hardware companies to outsource the actual manufacture to Asia, Nhava is neither a techology hardware company nor a designer.
Companies that are legitimate like Foxconn are well known for the manufacturing of Apple products and others.
On the other hand there are the unscrupulous manufacturers that supply companies like Nhava Global.
These manufacturers don’t care about ethics and just mass produce and stick any label on the gadgets.
They make sub-standard gadgets which may even be dangerous to use. The main portals they use to sell their gadgets are sites like alibaba.com.
Alibaba.com is a site acting as a middleman for questionable Chinese manufacturers.
An insider who has since left the company said: “The way to deal with problematic civil servants was to tell them about Zimra demanding astronomical duty and at some point we took advantage of the Air Zimbabwe strike and blamed the delay on that.
Unbeknown to them ICT products were waived from duty.
“And the truth is that Nhava Global does not manufacture laptops and does not design any.”
Osmond Shamuyarira, another scammed civil servant confided: “I am surprised you are telling me that these laptops are not manufactured here. This was the attraction in the first place. I am one of those who never got a refund or a laptop but had been waiting since July. How come reports on the Internet tell us that they manufacture locally and these laptops are homegrown. Are you saying they lied?”
“Zimbabwe is left the poorer. This is fraud,” said Takura Denda who added the laptops are malfunctioning as quickly as they are bought.