NetOne board ‘disconnects’ Muchenje

BY BUSINESS REPORTER
RECENTLY reinstated NetOne Cellular (Pvt) Limited chief executive Lazarus Muchenje has not been allowed to go back to work by the company’s board despite an interim High Court order to do so, NewsDay Business can reveal.
The board is currently functioning as a three-member team led by acting board chair, Susan Mutangadura.
In February, NetOne board chair James Mutizwa, audit committee chair Sibonile Dhliwayo and human resources committee chair Keumetsi Mpandawana resigned over alleged unprofessional conduct by Mutangadura and the remaining board members.
Another board member, Douglas Mamvura was suspended for not attending meetings despite not having been notified of those meetings as per company requirement.
“They (NetOne board) have not allowed Mr Muchenje to go back to work. They said he can work from home, so that is the situation at the present moment,” a source close to the matter told this paper yesterday.
“I do not know why they are doing that. There is no reason why they would be doing that given the court order. We just have to see how far it goes.”
Muchenje was reinstated by the High Court through an interim order nearly two weeks ago after the NetOne board had suspended him a day after returning to work following a court ruling in his favour.
NewsDay Business understands that upon receiving the interim order, Muchenje returned to work, but received an instruction not to return from the board as his presence was not needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Muchenje did not answer several calls made by this paper to comment on the matter.
Mutangadura, who was wanted for questioning by the police over perjury allegations, also did not respond to questions sent to her mobile phone seeking clarity on the matter.
The squabbles between the NetOne board and Muchenje, which started in February, have cost the company a reported $20 million in legal fees.
Muchenje was appointed NetOne CEO in the first quarter of 2018. That year, the State enterprise recorded a US$10 million profit from a loss of US$77 million the previous year.
The good performance was driven by an increase in revenue and improved efficiency.
“If the court has (ordered) that Mr Muchenje goes back to work, there is nobody that has got a right to stop him from going to work,” said Jacob Mutisi, chairman for Zimbabwe Information and Communication Technologies and councillor for the Institute of
Directors.
“If they (NetOne board) want to appeal so that Muchenje does not go back to work, they should go back to the court and wait for its decision. It seems like the board itself is now not following the law it should be following.”

Do you have a coronavirus story? You can email us on: news@alphamedia.co.zw