NetOne restructuring set to place former Telecel CEO as the operator’s new COO

Nigel Gambanga Avatar
Francis Mawindi

Francis Mawindi, the former Telecel Zimbabwe CEO

Almost four months ago, it was confirmed that NetOne, the state-owned mobile operator would be undergoing a management shakeup, with 24 job posts advertised in the press. This was part of turnaround efforts being made by the Minister of ICT, Supa Mandiwanzira.

Now, according to sources close to the mobile operator, the new position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) for NetOne is set to be taken up by Francis Mawindi, the former CEO of Telecel Zimbabwe. As the COO, Mawindi will be in charge of daily operations while reporting to the NetOne Chief Executive Officer. The current CEO is Reward Kangai.

seasoned telecoms professional, Mawindi left Telecel Zimbabwe in early 2013, less than a year into his contract. Details later emerged that he had been dismissed because of shareholder infighting at the operator.

While Mawindi hasn’t been in any leading role in any telecoms concern, he was recently linked to a local consortium that wants to set up an LTE network. Other partners in this proposed network include local investor Shingi Munyeza.

It’s not clear how Mawindi’s involvement with a prospective mobile operator will impact his assumption of a strategic role at NetOne, another mobile operator. Besides the glaring conflict, NetOne is currently rolling out a $218 million 4G/LTE Project, the largest of its kind in Zimbabwe to date.

When we reached out to Mawindi earlier on, he denied having accepted or rejected an offer from NetOne and officials from NetOne could not confirm the appointment.


  1. macd chip

    Is it just me but l feel Kangai must have been shown the door. He has been at NetOne for donkey years and what does he have to show for it?

    If Mandiwanzira is scared to fire him, he should at least report to Mahwindi, or maybe deputise him for local knowledge transfer. Other than that, l do not see Mahwindi making any impact since the old guard will be there doing what they have been doing all these years.

    Just my loud thinking!!

    1. fourwallsinaroom

      Is Reward so bad in the grand scheme of things. Net*one seems to make a profit. He borrows money, builds base stations and keeps 2million odd quality customers. To me this seems ok…before I get shot think about Gillette vs Schick Razor or Avis vs Hertz. Infact AVIS for the longest time used to say “we try harder” because they accepted to be profitable at number two. Just like Schick will never over take gillette.

      Tell me for each dollar econet invests whats is the return? For each dollar netone invests what is the return? I suspect net*one has a higher return per dollar.

      1. macd chip

        How much has he borrowed against how many base stations he built?

        You have the courage to compare Econet and NetOne, who got the licence first and who pays fees and tax on time?

        What experience of working for other telecoms does Kangai have?

        1. fourwallsinaroom

          Ok dont know why my response never popped up yesterday lets try again.
          Assume Econet owns Willowvale and Pockets Hill and one other base station, we will use NRZ for these purposes.
          Assume Econet has 100 Customers served by NRZ all of which use 3G (7Mbps – 21Mbps)

          Assume Net*One has Net*One Main, Kopje Plaza and NRZ.
          Assume Net*One has 20 Customers which use 3G served at NRZ (7-21Mbps)

          Lets make a few more assumptions here (not really, but lets call them premises)
          1. STM-1 = 63E-1 (remember 63+1 (the last one is used as the header)
          2. For max network utilization assume each subscriber runs at 7Mbps

          Econet needs 700Mbps or 5xSTM1
          Net*One needs 1xSTM1

          Also remember that Econet needs more sectors at NRZ than Net*One to service the 100 users.

          This equates to higher operational expenses for Econet for
          1. Rent (Space)
          2. Power
          3. Backhaul to primary and secondary
          4. Staff

          It also equates to higher capex
          1. Networking equipment

          Therefore when you calculate what net*one has done (according to me, net*one has said lets keep 20 quality customers and keep our opex low. when we need to upgrade lets borrow and pay back over 5-10 years to make things easy for us.

          You can see with the few above points that for each dollar net one pours into the network (assuming tariffs are the same) net*one makes more cents per dollar than econet does.

          Now when you consider econet services, steward bank, liquid telecom, zol etc. etc. Econet has to spread the few cents it makes really thing. Net*One just buys an S600 from time to time for the boss, pays salaries and opens a shop here and there.

          This is running your business in a conservative way. look at prepaid roaming for instance, net*one never makes noise about it, but its there… are we still together so far?

  2. Anonymous

    As long as Reward is there nothing will change.

    1. macd chip

      I feel for Mahwindi if he thinks he can change anything at NetOne. He should just go back to diaspora where his brains are valued and respected.

  3. Okech

    Waste of time and bandwidth to compare a parastatal with a listed company run from London? For as long as NetOne is a parastatal even Bill Gates will not make it better than Econet? Mr Editor, please don’t insult our intelligence by saying a Minister has a turnaround strategy unless you mean to go down faster?

  4. chitinha

    A turnaround can only be achieved once there is renewal of leadership at top most position. It is daydreaming to forecast a turnaround with changing the most impacting point. it will be an unattainable objective to expect culture change whilst maintaining the top level position.
    I think the ministerial leadership is lacking the basic tenets of a turnaround success factors, of which critical one is leadership change. No matter how hard Mawindi may try to influence the team towards the set direction, the friction will arise from the existing culture whose “mother” will still be there to nurse it.

    1. macd chip

      You said it better than l was trying to! Mahwindi will be useless and his efforts will go down the drain.

  5. Richard

    If he accepts then he knows the challenges that come from that position. Let him be judged after he takes up the job. Let’s not criticize for the sake of Criticizing. The same Kangai managed to overtake Telecel without shareholder support. What was he given as capital apart from the $45million loan in 2011. The rest were short term loans borrowed from banks at very high interest rates. Actually Kangai should be commended for steering Netone without financial support. To set up one base station you need between $150 000 to $250 000. Between 2009 and 2013 The dominant player invested $1.2 billion and NetOne only sunk in $134 million so u can see for yourself he tried under such hard circumstances. The biggest operator replaced all obsolete equipment comprising switches , base stations, routers and transmission links . It also built new advanced infrastructure and expanded it with huge resources at its disposal whilst Kangai and team had to struggle to replace their old Motorola and Siemens sytems which had been installed in 1997 let alone expand the network with little resources. Telecel on the other hand got financial support from Vimplecom, their international partner. I fully support the decision to keep Kangai at Netone he is the best man for the job he knows the system.