By Staff Reporter
NETONE has allegedly spent over RTGS$20 million in legal costs alone as they pursue their warfare to chuck Lazarus Muchenje out, a close source has revealed.
The costs have been incurred from March this year with court challenges presently either in the supreme, high or magistrate courts, all to achieve one thing – Muchenje’s ouster.
This has reflected badly as poor corporate governance where all involved parties must have simply closed their doors, aired their differences and find each other or should have just calculated an exit package for Muchenje to calm the storm.
It has become apparent that Muchenje is no longer wanted at NetOne and must go at all costs, even after dropping the charges against him.
Sources close to the developments however state that Muchenje is guilty of frustrating the return of ZTE at NetOne, a lucrative deal which its handlers will not rest till he is gone.
The biggest question that motivated this article, however, is to what end are these handlers willing to go and how much more will they spend to see Muchenje gone.
More importantly, whose money is paying for these costs.
NetOne is a public company and Zimbabweans have a say in how they are spending the money.
Just between May and July, at least five urgent chamber applications were done as the legal warfare persisted, a matter they could just have settled in the absence of public eye.
The matter has destroyed NetOne’s reputation, tried to soil the judge’s name, damaged Muchenje’s character, forced 5 board members to resign, got 3 board members arrested, caused 3 executives to be fired, got 7 employees arrested, and more names will be on the list if they continue on this treacherous path.
NetOne has engaged five different law firms with Advocate Eric Matinenga dealing specifically with the High Court challenges on illegal and unlawful dismissal of Muchenje while word on the street state that his minimum charges per appearance is nothing short of US$3 000.
He has allegedly appeared more than four times which is a minimum of US$12 000 or ZWL$1 200 000 in local currency.
Justice Chinhengo was also appointed to deal with labour and disciplinary issues since March 2, 2020 to date.
He is the one representing NetOne on the case of refusal to give board minutes to the police as well as procurement documents.
NetOne board members in happier times.
To date, police have been denied this information, because NetOne board challenged the cause instead of simply being transparent.
Another Law firm Kuhuni and Associates is also acting at the High Court over illegal disciplinary hearing with huge costs of continuous appearance which we are yet to independently ascertain.
They are also appearing at the magistrates’ courts for criminal charges against the CEO.
Gill Godlonton and Gerrans were hired as well for the High Court over illegal disciplinary and termination of employment.
Another law firm, Mhishi and Nkomo are appearing at the magistrate courts for criminal charges, which are not dropped at court.
All these five law firms were selected by whatever methodology and are all charging NetOne continuously during these cat and mouse games that they could have resolved internally and save revenue for the organisation.
It is now obvious that the board will never be able to implement whatever moves they want so long as Muchenje is there, meaning both parties are now holding NetOne to ransom.
Currently, NetOne does not have a CEO, CTO, COO and Chief finance officer meaning the company basically has no direction, yet the lawsuit appetite is so huge, begging the question who else might be gaining through these fights.
It is alleged that the NetOne board has employed lawyers to work with ZACC and the Public Prosecutors and yet NetOne should not be involved as this is now a state case with State paid lawyers.
How was this decision made to help state with legal aid?
With regards to High Court cases HC 1524/20 and HC3611/20 where CEO sued the directors in their personal capacities, NetOne lawyers were used as well to represent them and likely the mobile network paid for the costs.
This is pure abuse of office which must be investigated.
Two Supreme Court appeals were lodged by NetOne, one in the case of HC1524/20 and the other one is case HC3611/20, although these were withdrawn, these are matters the lawyers already dealt with and billed.
Lazarus Muchenje, handlers and the board members have no such right over NetOne. They are certainly not acting within the interest of the organisation.
Commented an observer, “Its not their company and this massive leakage needs to stop now.
“Millions of public funds are going down the drain on a showdown that is purely unnecessary and the end of this cat and mouse game must see all the involved parties forced to pay for these costs.
“NetOne currently has poor network connectivity and service availability yet all efforts are being put in nothing but warfare. Millions are already being wasted and the involved parties are willing to go all the way down.
“Whose money is being wasted on all these nonsensical arguments?
“Its time Zimbabweans demand their money back at NetOne and stop this heavy leakage.
“The young generation is just watching by yet our resources are being plundered and we have abetted these leakages by our silence and allowed the involved players to think that they are mandated to destroy our legacy in their quest to fight personal differences.
“Muchenje’s package is probably worth less than RTGS$10 million, he has a right to move on as well, in the interest of NetOne he must bargain his worth and allow the organisation to move on.
“At a certain point and time, these parties must be asked to pay us back our money, NetOne is a public company and must never be run like a private company with personal interests over national interests.”