Saturday, 18 April 2020

BOARDROOM WAR ROCKS NETONE


Despite the raging coronavirus, NetOne’s boardroom squabbles are showing no signs of abetting.

Board member Dr Douglas Mamvura faces the chop for reportedly failing to attend crucial meetings since his appointment last year — although indications are he was not officially invited for most of the meetings, Sunday Mail Business can reveal.

This comes at a time unconfirmed reports say another NetOne board member has been sacked for misconduct.

This will bring the number of directors to leave the board of the country’s second-largest mobile telecoms company in two months to five after three others, including board chair Mr James Mutizwa, resigned in February this year for different reasons.

Chief executive officer Mr Lazarus Muchenje was also suspended in February for alleged incompetence. The matter is still before the courts.

Highly placed sources in the company told The Sunday Mail Business that Dr Mamvura, a renowned marketing expert, was recently notified by the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services that he was going to be removed from the board for failing to attend key meetings. 

Dr Mamvura was appointed on October 18 last year by former ICT Minister Kazembe Kazembe.  His appointment letter was copied to the then Deputy Minister, Dr Jenfan Muswere, and to Permanent Secretary, Engineer Samuel Kundishora, only.

However, the board was not officially informed of Dr Mamvura’s appointment, it emerged. He then notified the NetOne company secretary of his appointment in February this year and was invited to attend a special board meeting on February 13.

He was, however, asked to leave the meeting and report to the ministry “for a brief”.

“He is now being accused of not having attended board meetings to which he was never invited,” said one source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is private. 

Dr Mamvura declined to comment on the matter and referred questions to the ministry. Minister Muswere told this publication to “call the office number”, which was not answered.

He later texted, asking the reporter to send questions, which he did not respond. Follow-up calls yielded no results.

In a letter to Minister Muswere on February 17 this year, a copy of which was gleaned by this publication, Dr Mamvura said it was not his fault that he had not attended meetings as he was never invited.

He also copied the letter to NetOne company secretary so that he would be included in future meetings.

In an interview with our sister paper, The Herald, last month, Dr Mamvura said “it is a mystery” that he was being denied a chance to attend  meetings since his appointment.

“I was properly appointed but I was never advised of any meetings,” he said. “I don’t know why I am being blocked.”

Dr Mamvura said he had accepted the appointment as a call “to national service as a Zimbabwean”. 

NetOne insiders claim the remaining board members have now turned themselves into executives as they are spending hours at NetOne, directing operations, audits and other day-to-day company operations.

Concerns have also been raised over the board’s decision to appoint an acting chief executive from second-tier management although there are two substantive chief officers — Mr Darlington Gutu, the chief technical officer; and Mr Kuda Nyashanu, the chief human resources officer.

The acting CEO Ms Chipo Jaisson is head of finance. Since the resignation of the three board members, the board now does not have any functional committees.

It is alleged the role of the committees has now been usurped by individual board members especially, who are now carrying out the work of committees as individuals and without any structured meetings. Sunday Mail

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