Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s request for the civil trial proceedings between it and its former board chairman Cuthbert Dube and four ex-senior executives referred to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe for inquiry and report has failed after the High Court threw out the application.
Former senior executives Happison Muchechetere, Elliot Kasu, Allan Chiweshe and Ralph Nyambudzi are accused of allegedly enriching themselves using the parastatal’s funds.
The national broadcaster alleges that the five illegally benefited themselves from $6 million obtained as loans.
ZBC last week filed an urgent chamber application asking the High Court to invoke Section 19A of the High Court Act (Chapter 7: 06) and refer the proceedings under case number HC 2770/2015 to ICAZ chief executive officer Ms Gloria Zvaravanhu, as a referee in the matter.
But in his ruling Justice Owen Tagu upheld submissions by the five’s lawyers led by Proffessor Lovemore Madhuku, who argued that the request was premature at this stage of the matter.
“I agree with counsel for the respondents that even if we are to assume that Section 19A applies or is likely to apply in the trial cause in case HC 2770/2015, it is premature at this stage to invoke the provisions of Section 19A of the High Court Act,” he said.
“The plaintiff had not led evidence from any witness. The court has not yet considered examination of documents.”
Prof Madhuku argued that when read properly Section 19A of the Act could not arise at this stage of the proceedings.
He said an inquiry only arises if it is an issue brought out of evidence that the court considers relevant to the ultimate determination of the dispute between the parties.
“The application is, therefore, premature and improper since there is nothing in the application demonstrating the inconvenience contemplated in Section 19A,” said Prof Madhuku calling for dismissal of the application.
Harare lawyer Mr Peter Kawonde appearing for Chiweshe and Nyambudzi said the appointment of a referee at this stage would be tantamount to an ouster of the court’s jurisdiction on the matter.
ZBC accused its ex-bosses of recklessly performing their duties, leading to the financial prejudice.
Allegations are that on January 19 2010, the former ZBC managers together with Dube secured a US$618 000 loan facility from CBZ Bank for the purchase of top executives’ vehicles after misrepresenting that the loan application had been approved by the board.
It is further alleged that the top executives on May 5 2010, approved a housing loan scheme agreement with a local bank for the benefit of the top management, again without the board’s approval.
The ex-bosses also allegedly prejudiced the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) after they allegedly under-declared their tax obligations.