Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
One of the companies under forensic audit at NetOne, Bopela Group of Companies, was allegedly overpaid by $500 000 for the installation of base stations. The company is owned by one Mr Agrippa Masiyakurima.
There are indications that the company opened another bank account to evade zimra after the tax collector garnished about $360 000 in tax arrears.
The NetOne board recently identified Bopela Group of Companies as one of the “suppliers of interest” that they wanted audited under the guidance of the Auditor-General’s Office following revelations that management had siphoned the parastatal of millions of dollars through suspicious procurement.
The board says the company was contracted to supply and install base stations without going to tender.
But insiders said despite being paid in advance, Bopela Group of Companies failed to fulfil all the conditions of the contract.
“Bopela was hand-given contract for the supply and installation of base stations at 100 sites for the Mobile Broadband Project a long time ago at $52 000 per base station,” said an insider.
“He was given the contract without going to tender and financials indicate that he was overpaid by about $500 000 because the parastatal had poor payment systems in place.
“He demanded his payment in advance and this was complied with because he would always brag about knowing big people in town and politics. He would push the construction manager who would also be pressured by senior management to sign papers so that payment could be effected before completion of the job.”
The source alleged that Bopela opened another bank account under the name Macharangwanda in order to evade zimra after the company’s old account was garnished.
“He had not been paying taxes to zimra, so when they went to his offices they were given papers that proved they were evading tax. That is why they garnished his Bopela account where payment was made for 32 sites which he did under Bopela while the remaining 68 were done under Macharangwanda.
Added the source: “Part of his contract was to put palisades at all base stations that he installed but out of 100, he only put at three which are the ones at the Airport, Ballantyne Park and Circle Close in Borrowdale.
“The rest of the towers he did not construct palisades for instance in Victoria Falls, Chinhoyi High, Chinhoyi Magistrates’ Court, Chinhoyi University of Technology then locally, Rhodesville, Central Sorting Office, Borrowdale Police and Marlborough Castle and others.”
Another source said there was also need for investigations on the sites where base stations were installed.
“Indications are that Bopela would always ensure that base stations are installed at properties where he has interests for rental benefits. Mind you rentals were paid in advance. An interesting case in point is there is a property that was paid rentals from the year 2000 but the base station was only installed last year.
“There is also another case where a site had been identified but Bopela unilaterally moved the base station to a site of his choice where it’s suspected he has interests as well. There is another case where the former finance director (a Mr Tarupuwa) instructed that a base station be installed at his church at 66 Marlborough Drive.
“There is serious need to investigate the faces behind properties where base stations were installed because it appears the majority of the sites were for monetary benefits. People benefited a lot from the base stations because some of them were paid in advance up to 2021,” said source.
Mr Masiyakurima refused to comment on the issues raised instead retorting: “Baseless accusations by Supacoste. Write whatever you want.
“Get Caesar Zvayi and Supacoste tell you what to write. I only have one account inonzi Bopela Group. So write whatever you want.”
Interestingly, Mr Masiyakurima posted on his Facebook account on March 22, 2016 a snapshot of a bank transfer request of $200 000 of January 06, 2016 from the account name Macharangwanda Group to a company called XCMG Zimbabwe and another transfer request from the same account name to XCMG Zimbabwe of $211 000 that was done on January 18, 2016.
Both transactions were effected by one Clever Masiyakurima.
When this was raised, he said: “Macharangwanda is just a sub-contractor. You are misinformed chief. I actually owe Macharangwanda as well for the crane. I only structured a deal for my sub-contractors. I have five sub-contractors and Macharangwanda is one of them. They did most of the work while my account was garnished by zimra. So tell those Lacoste fools that ngavatsvage zvimwe.”
Efforts to get a comment from NetOne board chairperson, Mr Alex Marufu, were fruitless but he is on record saying he would not comment until the forensic audit was completed.