Zim ICT minister embroiled in corruption allegations

Harare – Zimbabwe's Minister of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security Supa Mandiwanzira is facing corruption claims over alleged irregular board appointments at state-owned mobile firm NetOne, questionable movement of the company's accounts to a bank with links to some board members and potential abuse of a fund by the country’s telecom industry regulator under his watch.

Reward Kangai, a former chief executive officer of NetOne, has raised these allegations in a letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The new Zimbabwean leader has declared zero tolerance for corruption as he battles to prop up Zimbabwe's struggling economy.

Mandiwanzira has denied the allegations, tweeting on Wednesday that “no amount of fake documents from him with change the facts” as all Kangai’s “allegations have long been discredited. But I welcome further and further investigations”.

However, it seems Zimbabwe’s prosecutor general Ray Goba is keen to for the allegations against Mandiwanzira to be probed. He has written to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to follow up on the allegations in a letter, under the subject 'Criminal abuse of office/corruption allegations levelled against Hon Supa Mandiwanzira by Reward Kangai'.

“It is apparent that a complaint was lodged with your commissioner early this year (2017). It remains for me to enquire into the status of the investigation and to await your advice at the earliest available opportunity,” Goba wrote to the ZACC on December 20 2017.

NetOne said in a letter to the ZACC in 2017 that Kangai as CEO had allegedly made irregular loan and payment approvals for base station leases, often in advance without board clearance.

The company also raised allegations that during his time as CEO Kangai negligently failed to handle and protect the company’s coffers by advancing funds to persons and service providers he is said to have links with.

Kangai insisted in his letter to Mnangagwa that the audit report “found no evidence of allegations that had been laid against him”. He said he is being victimised for opposing the minister’s alleged irregular executive appointments at the company.

He further stated that NetOne chairperson Peter Chingoka is a non-executive director at Metbank while NetOne chief financial officer Sibusisiwe Ndlovu is a former director at Metbank, appointments which make the movement of NetOne accounts to the bank suspicious and possibly irregular. Metbank is said to owe NetOne $300 000.

This comes amid growing criticism that Mnangagwa is only targeting senior officials aligned to former first lady Grace Mugabe to crack down on corruption. Opposition politicians further say the new Zimbabwean leader should act on all corruption cases without bias.

Auditor general Mildred Chiri said in 2016 that Mandiwanzira had unprocedurally benefited from the telecom regulator, which bought him an expensive top of the range vehicle without approval from Treasury.

Mandiwanzira is one of the Cabinet ministers retained by Mnangagwa when he took over power from former leader Robert Mugabe last year.

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