Allegations of corruption have rocked NetOne with some airtime vendors in Bulawayo claiming employees at the state-owned telecommunications company were diverting prepaid airtime recharge cards to the black market where they are allegedly sold in foreign currency.
NetOne has airtime dealers registered with the company who buy airtime at wholesale price and resell it at the stipulated retail price.
However, some vendors told CITE that they were now struggling to access the bulk airtime as some of the employees are reportedly manipulating the system for their personal gain.
One airtime vendor who spoke on condition of anonymity said they are granted a specific discount when they do bulk purchases but due to the recent activities, they now purchase airtime in United States Dollars or at inflated prices.
“There is massive corruption and criminal abuse of office by the Bulawayo NetOne employees. It’s been four weeks now without airtime in the shop although it is supposed to be delivered three times a week. Of late we have been observing some airtime ‘touts’ who are allegedly employed by NetOne members of staff,” the source said.
“They are the ones who now sell it to us. Once airtime is delivered, they are called by the employees and do bulk purchases. They then start selling it right at the main entrance of the shop with the assistance of some NetOne agents. They either sell it in forex or they charge more than the usual bulk purchasing price.”
The source added: “We usually buy bulk recharge cards at about ZWL$80 discount. Of late, when registered customers go to the offices, they are told there is no airtime and are given contacts of people who will be selling it outside. On some occasions they sell it in United States Dollars.”
NetOne Head Public Relations, Dr Eldrette Shereni, told CITE that the company was not aware of these allegations but would send in a team to investigate the issue.
“We are not aware that such activities have been going on neither have we received any complaints to that effect. However, we shall send a team on the ground in Bulawayo to investigate the issue,” Dr Shereni said.