Tafadzwa Muguti alleges 'sabotage' over NetOne-Huawei court case dismissal.
Businessman Tafadzwa Muguti has cried foul after a Zimbabwean court threw out his corruption case against mobile network NetOne, China’s Huawei and the State Procurement Board (SPB).
Muguti, a Johannesburg-based businessman who was born in Zimbabwe, launched court action - via his Zimbabwean security and telecommunications firm Secure Dynamix - against state-owned NetOne, Huawei and the SPB last year amid allegations of an irregularly awarded $200 million dollar network upgrade deal.
Muguti has asked whether NetOne flouted procurement law by not listing an official tender for the network upgrade. He also wants to find out why the SPB, which is his case’s first respondent, gave the green light for the Huawei contract despite the board’s documented concerns of over-pricing.
But in January this year, Zimbabwe's administrative court in Harare threw out the case as Muguti and his lawyers failed to appear for a hearing. However, Muguti said that both himself and his lawyers never received official court papers to appear at the hearing in January, hence their absence from proceedings.
The businessman told ITWeb Africa that an ex-employee of one of his companies, Bantu Telecoms, signed a court notice about the hearing and then failed to inform Muguti or his lawyers regarding the matter.
Muguti said the ex-employee signed the notice at the Bantu Telecoms office, where Secure Dynamix also operates from. “I think somebody is trying to sabotage me,” Muguti told ITWeb Africa. Muguti explained to ITWeb Africa that previously he had received every court notice except for this latest key document.
Subsequently, the administrative court on 6 February gave Muguti and his lawyers ten days to oppose the decision to throw out the case. This means the court is set to provide a decision on whether proceedings are to go ahead next week.
“I have every intention of going to court and it remains mind boggling how we only got to find out about the default judgement at the courts when we went to submit our heads of argument,” Muguti told ITWeb Africa. “My lawyers are very professional and spent the holidays preparing for submission once the courts opened,” Muguti said.
The businessman has further said his position on the Huawei network deal remains unchanged. “Whatever happens it does not change the fact that NetOne and Huawei did not follow procedures, they signed an agreement before even getting SPB approval, let alone consider that at a time we have almost 90% unemployment, this project could give a serious boost to our local industries and communities.
“I have no intention of sabotaging Zimbabwe plans to transform our country and its economy.
“I do have a problem when public officers forget that they work for the people and have a moral and social responsibility to meet and exceed their expectations.
“Manufacturers like Huawei need to create employment not take it away,” said Muguti.
Huawei; though, has previously opposed Muguti’s case, according to a statement the Chinese telecoms equipment maker provided ITWeb Africa with last year.
“Our Zimbabwe office has been committed and dedicated to the sustainable development of Zimbabwe ICT and keep growing with Zimbabwe,” Jacky Zhang, of Huawei Technologies Zambia, told ITWeb Africa.
“For the project with NetOne, we strictly abide by all procurement laws and regulations in Zimbabwe, our target is to help Zimbabwe people enjoy their life through communication at affordable price. The allegation for over-inflated is not base on the truth,” Zhang told ITWeb Africa.