Zimbabwe’s Administrative court in Harare has reportedly dismissed the case against the State Procurement Board (SPB) and state-owned telecoms company NetOne which was filed by South Africa-based investor Tafadzwa Muguti in November 2013, IT Web Africa reports; the legal proceedings were initiated in order to compel the two entities to issue statements justifying the award of a USD290 million tender for telecoms equipment to China-based vendor Huawei Technologies. According to the article, the decision was made after Muguti and his lawyers failed to appear at a court hearing. However, the South African businessman claimed that his absence from the proceedings was due to the fact that his legal team did not receive official court papers to appear at the hearing. Muguti has been given ten days to appeal the court’s decision.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, cellco NetOne awarded Huawei a USD200 million network upgrade and expansion contract covering the deployment of 2,000 base stations. The project aimed to modernise NetOne’s GSM/W-CDMA network in readiness for upgrade to future platforms including Long Term Evolution (LTE). However, in November 2013 Muguti legally challenged SPB’s decision to approve and award the project contract to Huawei on the grounds that the decision process was tainted with irregularities. According to unnamed sources, Huawei Technologies trimmed over USD80 million from the initial quotation of USD298 million for the equipment, and the move raised suspicions that the equipment could have been overvalued. Muguti said that he wanted Zimbabwe’s Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the manner in which NetOne contracted Huawei to supply the equipment, as well as the procedure the SPB followed in awarding the tender.