By Martin Kadzere
The disciplinary hearing of the suspended NetOne chief executive Mr Lazarus Muchenje failed to take off last Friday after the embattled executive argued any proceedings would have been illegal since there was a court order barring the hearing.
Mr Muchenje was expected to appear before Retired Justice Moses Chinhengo to answer to several charges including incompetence, theft, habitual and substantial neglect of his duties as the CEO of Zimbabwe’s second largest mobile operator.
He was suspended on February 20, alongside acting chief finance officer Tinashe Severa. Mr Muchenje then approached the High Court seeking nullification of his suspension in which an interim relief order was granted to stop the hearing on March 11.
He argued that the meeting, which resolved to relieve him of his duties was not properly constituted and sought all resolutions, which the board adopted suspended.
On March 12, NetOne appealed against the order to interdict the hearing process at the Supreme Court and this became the basis for proceeding with the hearing.
“The interim order issued by the High Court on the 11th of March 2020 was served on us on the 12th March,” said NetOne lawyers C Kuhuni Attoney in response to Mr Muchenje who had advised his intention of not attending the hearing.
“We filed a notice of appeal on the 12th of March. From that date the High Court interdicting our client from pursuing disciplinary proceedings against our client was suspended pending the hearing of the appeal noted against the High Court order.”
“The intended hearing is not proper as alleged.” Mr Muchenje differed with NetOne’s interpretation.
Through his lawyers, Titan Law. Mr Muchenje argued that the interim order by High Court barring NetOne from pursuing the disciplinary hearing remained in force.
“The order in question is interlocutory in nature,” said Mr Muchenje’s lawyers.
“Accordingly leave to appeal ought to have been sought when you filed an appeal which is a legal nullity at law.
“In any event, it is highly improper for your client to proceed with the disciplinary proceedings when a superior forum is seized with the matter.
“An urgent chamber application has also been filed. . . which has bearing on these proceedings.”
Mr Muchenje also threatened to sue NetOne if the hearing was going to proceed.
Early last month, NetOne chairman Mr James Mutizwa and other two board members resigned and people with knowledge of the matter believe they were pressured.
Corporate governance experts have called for a special enquiry into the resignations of NetOne board members in terms of Section 15 of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act, which states that where two or more members resign, whether simultaneously or within a period of one month, the line minister may conduct an investigation in order to ascertain the reasons for their resignations. The Herald