By Hendricks Chizhanje
HARARE- Zimbabwe’s state-owned cellphone operator, NetOne, has hauled central bank governor Gideon Gono to court, demanding that he pays more than $800000 in outstanding bills. NetOne is demanding payment of $805996.26 – which the company claims was incurred over a period of two years.
In a summons filed at the High Court in Harare, the telecoms provider’s lawyers, Coghlan Welsh and Guest, charge that Gono incurred the bill between January 2009 and September last year.
According to a schedule compiled by NetOne and attached to the summons, the central bank governor last serviced his debt in August last year when he paid $50. In November 2009, Gono paid $200000 and $100000 in September the following year while in February and June last year he only paid $4 towards his debt.
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However, Gono, through his lawyers TH Chitapi and Associates, has challenged NetOne and is contesting the charges levelled against him by the Reward Kangai-led cell phone operator. The CBZ boss has asked NetOne to supply him with an itemised bill showing the identity of the cellphone lines which accrued the charges.
Gono has also queried how NetOne levied foreign currency-denominated tariffs for its services. “If the figures are in US dollars, does plaintiff (NetOne) aver that it billed for its services in such currency? If the figures are in Zim dollars how did plaintiff convert the amounts from Z$ to US$?
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“In particular what exchange rate was used? Is it the plaintiff’s case that outstanding bills for services provided prior to the introduction and use of multi-currencies are claimable in US$ as opposed to the currency in force at the time of the billing,” reads part of Gono’s response to the summons, seen by the Sunday Times this week.
Besides NetOne, Econet is also increasingly turning to the courts to recover money owed by individuals, companies and foreign embassies, who despite demands being made, have failed to settle their debts. Most of the debts were incurred at the height of the country’s economic crisis. Sunday Times