INFORMATION and Communication Technology (ICT) minister Supa Mandiwanzira says his hands are clean in the face of corruption allegations levelled against him by former NetOne chief executive officer Reward Kangai and businessman Agrippa “Bopela” Masiyakurima.
Mandiwanzira told Parliament yesterday that instead, the police must pounce on Kangai and Masiyakurima for allegedly engaging in shady deals that resulted in the parastatal losing millions of dollars as exposed by a forensic audit commissioned by Auditor-General (AG) Mildred Chiri.
The ICT minister had appeared before the William Dhewa-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media to speak on the Cyber Crimes and Cyber Security Bill and government’s decision to invest $40 million in Telecel Zimbabwe.
The meeting suddenly turned explosive with Mabvuku-Tafara legislator James Maridadi (MDC-T) questioning why government used a broke company like Zarnet to acquire 60% shareholding of Telecel from the Netherlands-based VimpelCom.
Mandiwanzira then set the record straight on allegations of corruption against him saying: “As Minister of ICT, one of my huge responsibilities was to clean up very murky cartels operating in State enterprises and parastatals under the ministry in terms of shady business contracts, where there was a $280 million project implemented by NetOne and we had consultants who did a study and they advised us that we had been duped, and they were only able to recover $30 million, but this contract was signed by Kangai.”
He said government realised a lot of things were in bad shape.
“I did not want my principals to point a finger and say I was part of the corruption and the AG conducted a forensic audit and hired PricewaterhouseCoopers and the audit says Kangai and Masiyakurima (Bopela) were involved in corrupt activities getting tenders without following procedures and avoiding taxes.
“I, as a minister can declare that I am not a corrupt person, have never taken a cent from government, have never supplied a pen or vegetables to Telecel, NetOne and so on, and I was in business before I got into government,” Mandiwanzira said.
He said government was forced to buy Telecel shares because VimpelCom was making $20 billion profit through its global operation but was failing to pay off its $137,5 million licence fees despite being given seven years to do so.
Mandiwanzira said companies like Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet paid off the fees in 90 days.
“Government paid the $40 million and it was mobilised through various investors, and part of it was paid through an escrow account in London and passed on to VimpelCom in the Netherlands.
“We did not get foreign currency for part of it and so we deposited it into a Barclays Bank nostro account. NSSA came in as a financier, but when we dispose of the Telecel shares they can become a shareholder.”
The ICT minister said government decided to take over Telecel when VimpelCom tried to dispose its 60% shares to another international company for $110 million. He said government was able to negotiate for a $40 million deal and localised the company.
He said government’s partners in Telecel was Empowerment Corporation and not businessman James Makamba.
On the Cyber Crimes and Cyber Security Bill, Mandiwanzira said consultants were hired to do the drafting and paid not more than $10 000.
He said there were plans to merge the Bill with two other pending Bills, the E-transactions Bill and the Data Protection Bill, before it was taken to Cabinet.