Zambia hints at fifth telco operator

A fifth telco
for Zambia?

Enough room says
industry regulator.

Tuesday, Feb 25th

Tafadzwa Muguti denies he wants NetOne contract for himself

Zimbabwe: Tafadzwa Muguti denies he wants NetOne contract for himself.

South African-based businessman has taken Huawei to court over a controversial $200 million Zimbabwe cell-tower upgrade.

Businessman Tafadzwa Muguti says it’s “unfortunate” that people think he wants a lucrative $200 million Zimbabwe cell-tower upgrade contract that was awarded to Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei in July this year.

Earlier this year, Huawei won a contract to upgrade NetOne’s mobile network to be LTE compatible. NetOne is Zimbabwe’s smallest mobile operator with just two million subscribers.

However, Zimbabwean-born Muguti has taken NetOne, Zimbabwe’s State Procurement Board, Huawei and even the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zimbabwe to Harare’s administrative court over the awarding of the $200 million contract. (Read ITWeb Africa's previous story by clicking here.)

The businessman, who is the chief executive officer of investment group Africapaciti, wants to find out how and why Huawei won the contract to carry out the NetOne upgrade even though the Chinese company did not go through an official tender process.

He also alleges the contract was awarded to Huawei despite Zimbabwe’s State Procurement Board allegedly having expressed concerns over an inflated price for the project.

Huawei dropped the price for the project from over $280 million down eventually to $200 million, says Muguti.

Muguti is also a director and chairman of Zimbabwean telecoms and security firm Secure Dynamix, which was preparing to bid for the cell-tower contract, Muguti told ITWeb Africa this week.

"It's unfortunate that many people think I want the $200 million contract and just want to cause unnecessary noise,” Muguti told ITWeb Africa on Friday.

“It's everyone's right to ask about any public project. My affidavit states that I would like to know how NetOne and State Procurement Board gave the project to Huawei.

“It's just curious how one company can be given room to discount and adjust their bid more than twice without other comparable bids. It's a big disappointment how one gets crucified when they simply are using the right as a Zimbabwean to ask why.

“The focus is now on me as an individual and my company's size against Huawei, it's obvious you can never compare the two. It's important for people to understand that there is nothing wrong with approaching the authorities to seek clarity,” Muguti told ITWeb Africa.

The court case regarding the matter kick-started on Wednesday.

Muguti has told ITWeb Africa on Friday that all respondents in the case have “since responded with opposition statements” and that his lawyers are “building a case response.”

A date for the next court hearing has not clearly been set yet owing to preparations regarding the responses, Muguti has told ITWeb Africa.

Huawei officials, meanwhile, told ITWeb Africa earlier this week regarding the Muguti court case that it “strictly abides by all procurement laws and regulations in each of the countries” it operates in.

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