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How Strive Masiyiwa ‘refused to fund the Liberian genocide’

Derick Matsengarwodzi Zimbabwean telecommunications entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa could have possibly lessened the effects of genocide i...

Derick Matsengarwodzi

Zimbabwean telecommunications entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa could have possibly lessened the effects of genocide in Liberia, in 2001, after his refusal to participate in a corrupt deal.

Details of the underhand transaction are contained in his exclusive revelations involving corrupt government officials.

The attractive offer
“In 2001 after we got the license in Nigeria, we set about trying to find a building big enough to house the Switch facilities in Lagos. It was not an easy task to find the right type of building – and time was running out. We had paid $285m for the license, and had been given six months to set up our operations. Failure to meet the deadline would have resulted in a loss of the license.

The building, according to Masiyiwa belonged to the government of Liberia – then ruled by the incarcerated Charles Taylor.

“It took only a few days for our people to reach agreement over the price. Sale and purchase documents were drawn up and payment terms prescribed. It was a lot of money, which meant I would have to personally sign off on the payment. As I sat there in my office in Lagos, looking at the documents, I noticed that payment had to go to an account in Switzerland...”

This puzzled Zimbabwe’s youngest ever 1990 businessman award recipient.  

“Why is the money not going to Liberia? I quizzed my staff. Initially, it seemed to be a detail no one had picked up. I refused to sign. The ambassador came to see me at my office, with an entourage of officials. There was a sense of urgency on their part. I explained to the ambassador that I wanted a Government of Liberia bank account number – and I also wanted an authorisation of sale. The following day he called me and said the President's brother had been dispatched to “sort out the mix-up over the account details.”

Corrupters are master of flattery
Masiyiwa insisted the necessary documents be produced.

“He was now getting quite desperate and agitated, even suggesting they had another buyer in the wings. I would not budge. On another occasion, he invited me to travel to Liberia as a guest of the President. He thought it would impress me. Sometimes (not always), corrupters try to dangle the “flattery” of high-level meetings.”

Later, Econet opted out of the deal.

“Of course, by this time I had long worked out what was happening and was already looking for an alternative building. I let them stew for a few days – and then told him I was no longer interested and moved on. We ordered specialised containers to store our equipment and air freighted them to Lagos. It was a more costly solution than if we had bought the Liberian Embassy building.”

Years later, Charles Taylor was eventually sentenced to a total of 50 years in prison at The Hague, in the Netherlands for his leading role in war crimes, crimes against humanity and other violations of international humanitarian law. – Tinzwei

Derick Matsengarwodzi is a communication consultant, author – and founder of The Aloe Media. An ardent researcher plus media devotee – you can interact with him through Facebook or Follow his authoritative, eloquent, analytical and revealing writing flow on: or

Tinzwei Is A Worth Voyage For Those In Pursuit For Up-To-Date World Events.

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