Govt blocks attempts to reinstate suspended NetOne boss

BY Obey Manayiti

THE President’s Office has blocked attempts by the newly-appointed NetOne board to bring back suspended chief executive officer, Lazarus Muchenje, through the back door, with Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, saying the decision was inconsistent with good corporate governance.

In a damning letter to Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services (ICT) minister Kazembe Kazembe gleaned by NewsDay Weekender, Sibanda said corporate governance rules must apply “notwithstanding change of personalities”.

“This is critical for the protection of public assets and funds,” Sibanda wrote in the letter dated January 28, 2019, which was copied to Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, secretary for corporate governance, Walter Manungo, ICT ministry secretary, Sam Kundishora and NetOne board chairperson, James Mtizwa.

“Transparency dictates under the new dispensation require that governance systems and processes be followed through to their conclusion at all public entities including NetOne, notwithstanding changes of personalities.”

He said a resolution of the board that proceedings against Muchenje be withdrawn would be inconsistent with natural justice and corporate governance requirements.

“This is particularly so as the new board does not provide any basis for its resolution to withdraw hearing proceedings against the suspended CEO,” Sibanda said.

Muchenje was suspended last year after he unilaterally fired nine senior executives without board and shareholders approval.

After his move was blocked by the President’s Office, Muchenje sued all the parties including then ICT minister, Supa Mandiwanzira, NetOne board chair Peter Chingoka accusing them of interfering in the operations of the entity.

A new board set up Kazembe had sought to withdraw charges against Muchenje and had started a process to have him back at work while chief operations officer Brian Mutandiro and finance director Sibusisiwe Ndlovu were sent on indefinite leave pending a forensic audit.

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