On the first day of this month, a local daily NewsDay called out Nhava Global for duping Zimbabweans into thinking they design and manufacture netbooks. We posted our thoughts on what is now officially the Nhava scandal. Today, the NewsDay published a follow-up on the article titled “Nhava Global saga rages on“.
To encourage some discussion on the issue just so we can what Techzim readers think about we repost the article here with the permission of the authors.
The Nhava Global offices sheltered at Eastgate in Harare are not anything like Steve Jobs’ Apple offices in the United States of America.
The offices do not in any way resemble a hardware/software manufacturing company that it is supposed to be. It looks more like a simple retail shop. And that is what it is.
NewsDay visited Tinashe Shangwa, the chairman of the company, for a discussion in his office on what he claimed were “misleading facts” in an exclusive article published by NewsDay on how Nhava Global had the media and even the Vice President of Zimbabwe, Joice Mujuru as well as Information Communication Technology minister Nelson Chamisa supporting their initiative.
In the chairman’s office there is a shelf with a few folders, one marked Nhava Customers and three desks. One of the desks has fliers of Nhava products and software discs (adobe and Windows 7) whose covers are written in Chinese and English.
A soft spoken but eloquent Shangwa navigates from his chair in the crammed office to greet me but not before he reminds me: “So you are the one who wrote that scathing article. Feel comfortable we will set the record straight.”
He begins to talk: “We do design the laptops we sell. We do not manufacture them here but we are heavily involved in the designing, but I will call John Shangwa, the chief executive officer who does most of the designs to talk to you more on that.”
An inside source had beforehand described John, the younger brother to Tinashe as the “young man who told anyone who cared to listen that he had gone for a five-year internship in China where he learnt to design computer hardware”.
“We used to advise partners that he was the czar of design and that he had gone for this training and that internship. We never knew for sure if ever he did but it worked. We always had the credibility,” said our source.
Tinashe had confirmed that indeed John had gone for the five years to a manufacturing and design school in China.
“Who told you that?” John asks to which I confirm to him that his brother had said so and only then does he thoughtfully recall but he reduces the years to three.
“Well, I was on internship in China for three years since 2005 to 2007. I used to go and come back. I was with Best Power Limited in Shenzhen,” John says.
NewsDay then requested to see his paper work. “All the papers are at home and we will scan them for you and give you in a day.”
Morgen Mutsau, the vice-president of Venum Inc, a purportedly technical division of Nhava Global who was part of the interview promised to bring the certification of the internship. That never happened, and a day later he had somersaulted on the issue.
“We have decided not to give you the certificates or any documentation you asked for. We will take another route,” Mutsau said.
Google search could not locate the Chinese company, Best Power Limited or John Shangwa’s association with it.
Questioned on the Windows Microsoft software they use, John said: “It is genuine and we always supply the genuine stuff.”
However, NewsDay established that an employee of Nhava Global provided a pirated version of Windows 7. This was confirmed through one of the victims, Tinashe Sakuchera whose computer now notifies him that he is using a pirated version.
NewsDay has the folder containing what is known as a patch in geek-speak.
“As for Windows XP it is free for download, so anyone can use it,” claimed John. This is wrong, given that Windows XP is still commercial and not open-source software.
An IT expert clarified: “Windows improved their security against software pirates in their Windows 7 operating system. With Windows XP you could easily obtain a trial version and put a “patch” on it, after the patch it would operate like licensed software, without any glitches. However Win7 is a bit more complex, the moment you try to obtain updates via the internet may be the end of your pirated copy.”
Despite insistence on being a company that makes its own designs, a persistent request to be shown some of the designs drew blanks as the trio of Tinashe, John and Mutsau all insisted the designs were copyrighted and could be leaked to competitors.
NewsDay traced the source of one of their models. We can reveal that the Nhava J7380 that also carries the Laser One label and is selling for $550 locally, is a product manufactured by Shenzhen Hongda Technology Co (Ltd) and is sold everywhere in the world.
The Laser One is regarded as a clone of Acer laptops and the original price in China is $230. “We gave all these laptops those names. Like Laser One and all. Those are our names,” Tinashe and John had chorused in the interview.
NewsDay can also reveal that the Nhava Mist laptop is manufactured by YZ Digital International Limited.
It is sold unbranded and allows companies like Nhava to brand as they wish. Its asking price is $230 and Nhava sells it for $450 with a one year warranty.
A fact Sakuchera expressed amusement over was that his battery can no longer work after three months of use.
When NewsDay left the offices, the chairman, the CEO and the Vice President of Venum Inc closed the door supposedly to discuss a new strategy and the reception we had got before the interview was lost in the mist.
The Nhava Global saga is far from over.