Former NetOne CEO, Executives Acquitted Of Abuse Of Office Charges

Former NetOne CEO Lazarus Muchenje and seven executives have been cquitted by the Supreme Court on charges related to abuse of office.

The case centered on allegations that Muchenje had improperly engaged in three commercial agreements with foreign entities without requisite approvals from the Board and the Ministry overseeing NetOne, a state-owned telecommunications company in Zimbabwe.

Mr. Muchenje, credited with steering NetOne from financial losses to profitability during his tenure, was accused of entering agreements with Bankai International Private Limited and Bridgevoice Inc. for value-added services.

Additionally, he faced accusations of personal benefit through expenditures on security services, furniture purchases, luxury vehicle rentals, and a lease agreement allegedly undervalued and lacking board approval.

Advocate Taona Nyamakura, with legal representation from Innocent Chingarande, successfully defended Mr. Muchenje and his co-accused executives, Tanyaradzwa Chingombe, Darlington Gutu, Spencer Manguwa, Paradzai Chakona, Tawanda Sibanda, Tinashe Severa, and Sharmaine Kadenhe.

In response to the verdict, Mr. Muchenje expressed gratitude, stating, “I am relieved that justice has prevailed, and our innocence has been affirmed. We can now move forward, our integrity and dignity restored.”

NetOne, established as Zimbabwe’s pioneering cellular network operator in 1996, has recently invested significantly in expanding its network capabilities.

In 2023, the company allocated US$17 million and $12 billion toward enhancing network coverage, particularly in internet and data services, anticipating growth in subscriptions as reported by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).

With active internet and data subscriptions rising to 10.6 million by the third quarter of 2023, up 7.5% from the previous quarter, NetOne remains a pivotal player in Zimbabwe’s telecom sector evolution.

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