NetOne chief executive officer Mr Lazarus Muchenje’s turbulent tenure at the helm of the State-owned mobile telecommunications company ended dramatically yesterday after he was fired barely 24 hours after he was reinstated to the position.
Mr Muchenje, who was suspended earlier this year, to pave way for investigations into suspected criminal abuse of office and fraud, was notified of the board’s decision to sack him early yesterday morning.
He had successfully challenged his suspension in court, leading to his reinstatement on Thursday evening, but the board immediately followed “due process” and terminated his services a few hours later, citing provisions of the Labour Act.
A letter from the board said the company had decided to exercise its right in terms of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) and in terms of common law to terminate the contract of employment on notice.
NetOne acting board chair Mrs Susan Mutangadura could not be reached to comment on the development last night.
Communication from the board, however, stated that Mr Muchenje had been dismissed on three months’ notice in terms of Section 12 (4) of the Labour Act which required either party to give three months’ notice in the event that a party wished to terminate the employment contract.
The notice period would end on October 31, 2020 and Mr Muchenje would immediately be paid his salary and benefits for the duration, but without him having to report for work.
Mr Muchenje was ordered to surrender all company property in his possession to the enterprise risk manager.
He has a pending court case along with six other NetOne executives and a former legal trainee in which they are facing eight counts of criminal abuse of office and fraud.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Engineer Sam Kundishora has clarified that Mr Douglas Mamvura is not a member of the NetOne board.
Mr Mamvura’s status was shrouded in confusion following reports that he had been appointed to the board. Two directors, Mrs Mutangadura and Mr Ranga Mavhunga were recently arrested for perjury after they stated that Mr Mamvura was not a member of the board.
“This serves to confirm that at no stage did the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services advise NetOne Cellular Private Limited not the company’s board of directors that Mr Douglas Mamvura had been appointed to the board of directors of NetOne.
“The Ministry is seized with the appointment of directors for NetOne and is the only authority that can advise the company when such appointments are made. All board appointments are formally communicated to NetOne by the ministry.
“It has come to the ministry’s attention that some members of the board of directors of NetOne are being charged with perjury because they stated that Mr Mamvura was never appointed to the board of NetOne. Their statement is correct as articulated above,” said Eng Kundishora in a letter dated July 6.
The letter was copied to the Ministry of Justice, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, the Attorney General, the Police, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the NetOne board and the Corporate Governance Unit of the Office of the President and Cabinet.