Ex-NetOne boss Kangai freed on bail

By Fungai Lupande

Former NetOne managing director Reward Kangai appeared in court yesterday on allegations of hand-picking his relatives and close associates for contracts to erect the company’s base stations before paying them rentals in advance.

Net One managing director Reward Kangai speaking during the Easy Call Net One Cup press conference
Former Net One managing director Reward Kangai speaking during the Easy Call Net One Cup press conference

It is alleged that he prejudiced the telecommunications company of millions of dollars. Kangai is also accused of choosing service providers for the company without following tender procedures.

He is facing 21 counts of criminal abuse of duty and was remanded to January 31 on $800 bail. As part of his bail conditions, Harare magistrate Ms Rumbidzai Mugwagwa ordered Kangai to surrender his passport, report to the police once a week and not to interfere with witnesses. His lawyer Mr Nyasha Munetsi said he had issues with the legality of his client’s arrest.

“There are no reasonable grounds to suspect that the accused committed the offence. He was summoned at the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and he gave them detailed information,” said Mr Munetsi.

“NetOne concealed all the documents to the investigating officer and ZACC was obliged to follow up and investigate. None of that transpired.” Prosecuting, Ms Linda Gadzikwa alleges that sometime in October 2014, Kangai unlawfully and corruptly sanctioned payment of rentals in advance for four base stations without authorisation and approval from the board of directors.

Kangai allegedly showed favour to Bopela Family Trust by sanctioning the advance rental payment of $10 500, which covered a period of 21 months. Richwood Sports Club was paid $33 000, which covered a period of five years, while Avondale Christian Church was paid $27 000, which covered three years.

It is alleged that house No. 514 Chipembere Road, Windsor Park in Ruwa, Harare was paid $5 400. The court heard that NetOne has no provision for advance rental payments and the lease agreements entered between the company and base station landlords have no provision for such. It is alleged that Kangai’s conduct was prejudicial to NetOne and other landlords whose rentals were not paid. Kangai also approved a loan of $80 000 to Bopela Group (Pvt) Ltd without approval of the board.

It is alleged that the loan approval was outside NetOne’s mandate. The company lost $155 900 as a result. The court heard that between January 2014 to December 2015, Kangai unlawfully failed to comply with Section 8 of the Procurement Act Chapter 22:14, including Statutory Instrument 171 of 2002 and Statutory Instrument 126 of 2015, in the selecting and engaging service providers.

He allegedly hand-picked Espol Advertising (Pvt) Ltd, Sectional Poles South Africa, Convergys (Pvt) Ltd, Bopela Group (Pvt) Ltd, Gemalto (Pvt) Ltd, Afrosoft (Pvt) Ltd and Imago Communications.

The total tender value for the above companies was $17 594 700. The court heard that on eight different occasions, Kangai abused his authority by giving directives to his subordinates on the acquisition of base station sites. The procedure required three survey reports before the final selection. It is alleged that construction work at the sites commenced without survey reports.

The court heard that surveys were later done as a cover up. Sometime in 2014, it is alleged that Kangai ordered the installation of a base station at stand No. 103 Goodhope along Lomagundi Road. The property belonged to his aunt, Ms Joyce Kangai.It is alleged that Kangai failed to disclose his personal interest and relationship with Joyce.

Ozias Bvute and Supa Mandiwanzira
Ozias Bvute and Supa Mandiwanzira

Ironically, Kangai recently asked President Emmerson Mnangagwa to hold a wide-ranging judicial inquiry into the alleged criminal abuse of office and untested corruption allegations he  levelled against Information Communication Technologies (ICT) and Cyber Security minister Supa Mandiwanzira.

Kangai — who was fired in 2016 after an external auditor PriceWaterhouseCoopers completed a board-sanctioned probe into the goings-on at the NetOne mobile phone operator — asked Mnangagwa in a December 28, 2017 letter to urgently hold a commission of inquiry — the country’s most powerful kind of judicial probe — into the minister’s portfolio to unravel what he called the birth and growth of a cartel in the ICT sector in Zimbabwe.

In his damning letter to Mnangagwa, Kangai called for the setting up of a commission of inquiry into the operations of NetOne, covering the re-structuring exercise in which he alleges the minister stuffed the NetOne board and management with his proxies, untested allegations that Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz),

NetOne, and Zimpost were coerced into opening accounts with a commercial bank (name withheld) and depositing their cash collections with that bank. Herald/Daily News