An online media company, Next Level Media Group, has dragged NetOne to the High Court accusing the state-owned mobile network operator of flouting corporate governance principles by plagiarising their business idea and giving it to a rival online media company.
The media company`s Managing Director Albert Mavunga through his lawyers Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court on April 25, under case number HC942/19.
NetOne was cited as the first respondent while Sports Brief Zimbabwe was cited as the second respondent.
According to the Mavunga`s founding affidavit, his media company which specialises in digital media marketing; website management and social media management entered into a contractual agreement with Highlanders Football Club and Dynamos Football Club to offer online based marketing initiatives through Bosso Tv and Dembare Tv, respectively.
The two football giants then secured a sponsorship deal with NetOne to fund their operations ahead of the 2018 local premiership season.
“Sometime during the month of May 2018, NetOne approached Mavunga`s clients, namely Dynamos Football Club and they indicated that they wanted to find them a media partner. At that meeting, they were then referred to us as we had an existing contract with Dynamos Football Club. We were already offering them that niche and added social media coverage included a branded and well managed online Television and we were streaming page,” read part of the affidavit.
A meeting was arranged on May 30, 2018, between Next Level and NetOne, in which the former allegedly shared with one Loveness Goverah, a representative of the telecommunications company confidential documents containing the media company`s program and packages.
“All this information was handed to NetOne in confidence and on the understanding that it would be used only in relation to the clubs that Next Level already had a relationship with and in anticipation of a future working relationship.”
Mavunga alleges that NetOne then approached Sports Brief Zimbabwe to offer the same services to Dynamos FC.
“On July 18, 2018, the Netone Cellular wrote a letter to Dynamos Football Club saying they have given Sports Brief Zimbabwe a mandate to cover the events of the Football Club. This was rejected by the club as they already had a contract with us to cover such events,” read the court papers.
“Seeing their efforts had hit a brick wall, Netone Cellular retreated and advised us that since it was already in July 2018, they could not give us a 6-month contract as they only dealt in 12-month contracts.
“Unfortunately, this was not true and with the benefit of hindsight, we now know Netone Cellular never acted in good faith. I say so for the simple reason that they took our project proposal and ideas that were emailed to Govera on May 31, 2018, and gave it verbatim to Sports Brief Zimbabwe.”
Mavunga further alleged that the mobile network operator flighted on February 1, 2019, seeking for media companies to offer the same services to the Harare football giants.
“A reading of that document shows that NetOne, in blatant defiance of simple corporate governance principles, acted in bad faith by poaching our ideas and first, giving them to Sports Brief Zimbabwe, and secondly, publishing them for the world to see and duplicate.”
Mavunga alleges that NetOne flouted the tender procedure by awarding the tender to Sports Brief Zimbabwe which “has already started broadcasting and performing as per the specifications and terms of the tender document, and putting NetOne`s logo and regalia.”
Mavunga prayed to the court to grant them an interdict barring NetOne from using any of the information they supplied them and the tender process to be set aside and both respondents not to engage in any activities as outlined in the tender document.