A COMPANY owned by NetOne management owes the State-owned mobile network operator $11 million, more than a fifth of the mobile operators’ $46 million debtors’ book, board chairman Alex Marufu said yesterday.
BY NDAMU SANDU
In his first media briefing after the suspension of CEO Reward Kangai, Marufu said NetOne was owed $11 million by Firstel and the forensic audit to be carried out by the auditor-general would look at the collection of debts during the period 2009 to 2015.
Kangai was sent on three months paid forced leave to facilitate a forensic audit into the affairs of NetOne, amid allegations of financial transgressions by his management.
“A large part of our debtors sits with a company that is owned by the previous management team in their individual capacities,” he said.
Despite some former executives having left the mobile operator, they remained shareholders of Firstel.
Marufu said the audit would look at the airtime distribution system in the period January 2012 to December 2015 as well as the payment of salaries and allowances to see whether there were payments outside the payroll. Marufu said the audit would also look at the acquisition of base stations, engagement of third parties in site construction and validity of lease rental payments among others.
The board chairman said the audit would investigate a transaction in which a company owned by Agrippa Masiyakurima also known as Bopela, was paid $80 000 in advance to sell 500 000 sim cards to Zanu PF youths.
“Of the 500 000 sim cards committed to, the actual number delivered was just under 3 000, which 3 000 was signed by NetOne staff at a weekend blitz at Zanu PF headquarters,” Marufu said.
He said the board saw it fit to send Kangai on leave “leaving room for objectivity during this audit and allowing unimpeded access to information by whoever is going to be given this contract in an open and transparent tender that is being managed by the officer of the Auditor General”.
Marufu said preliminary investigations had showed that there were several bank accounts which the finance department was not aware of. He said the finance team was weak hence there was a new team in place.
He said the forensic audit would take eight weeks and the mobile operator was not going to send some staffers on leave in the absence of “new information”.
Marufu said the company’s revenue was growing despite a cut in tariffs by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe.
“We are gradually gaining market share from our key competitors and our subscriber base growth as reported by Potraz is testimony to this. Save for some cleaning up costs we have to endure as we deal with legacy issues, the underlying profitability of the business has improved and is moving in the right direction,” Marufu said.