Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation has instructed its lawyers Scanlen and Holderness to withdraw the $58 million summons issued against former board chairman Dr Cuthbert Dube and five others to allow the deletion of the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services that was erroneously listed as the second applicant.
In the summons filed at the High Court on Wednesday, chief executive officer Happison Muchechetere, general manager news and current affairs Tazzen Mandizvidza, general manager finance Elliot Kasu, general manager radio services Allan Chiweshe and head of finance Ralph Nyambudzi, – who are all suspended – were listed as co-defendants with Dube.
The defendants, according to the summons, are accused of being reckless in their management of the entity and unjustifiably enriching themselves through hefty salaries and loans.
It is argued that they carried out ZBC’s business in a negligent and reckless manner that caused financial prejudice to the company.
ZBC was listed as the first plaintiff in the application and the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry as the second plaintiff.
ZBC now wants its lawyers to remove the ministry from the papers after it emerged that they had no instructions to represent it.
The public broadcaster also wants the lawyers to remove the name of Mr Mandizvidza from the list of co-defendants because he had agreed to co-operate with the employers, and an out of court settlement was under way.
In a letter dated March 26 2015, ZBC chairman Father Gibson Munyoro told Scanlen and Holderness that the ministry had nothing to do with the case.
“We want to categorically state that we did not instruct the lawyers representing ZBC in the Muchechetere and others case to represent the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services,” he said.
“There is no privity of contract between Scanlen and Holderness and the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services. Therefore, it is wrong for the former to claim or intend to represent the latter in any way.
“Accordingly, we instruct Scanlen and Holderness to remove the ministry from being the second plaintiff in the summons papers.
“On the basis of the out of court settlement and negotiations between Mr Tazzen Mandizvidza and ZBC, we instruct you to remove Mr Mandizvidza from the list of defendants.
“Mr Mandizvidza has opted to co-operate with the ZBC in the prosecution of Muchechetere and others.”
Once the summons is withdrawn and corrected, Fr Munyoro said, the draft must be submitted to him for review before resubmission at the High Court.
Scanlen and Holderness have been given 24 hours to issue a statement correcting the information and to file fresh summons.
“We expect your statement before end of working day today (yesterday) and a draft of your corrected summons by tomorrow 27 March 2015,” said Fr Munyoro.
“Kindly note that this issue has already attracted a lot of media attention and we have to correct the summons and re-issue within the next 24 hours, at the least.”
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said correction of the mess at ZBC should be done with strict observance of the rule of law.
‘‘As far as we are concerned, Government commissioned a comprehensive forensic audit of ZBC in order to clean up the rot there once and for all. We don’t want that process to be contaminated by other irregularities on our behalf. We, therefore, insist that the correction of the mess be done in accordance with the strictest adherence to the rule of law.
“No one should act on our behalf without our instruction. We have our own lawyers and we do not use ZBC lawyers to act for us,’’ Prof Moyo said.
The public broadcaster contends that the top ZBC brass acted extravagantly and allocated themselves hefty loans at a time the company was bleeding and in a dire financial state.
The largest amount being claimed by ZBC is $28 million which the accused are said to have connived not to remit to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority in respect of statutory obligations.
The managers are also accused of abusing $23 million which they took fraudulently from the company, among other figures.