HARARE – Home Affairs minister, Obert Mpofu, has lost the battle to block the High Court from transferring some of his properties to the Deposit Protection Corporation (DPC) — the liquidator of his now-defunct Allied Bank Limited.
Mpofu has been resisting moves by the liquidator to assume control of six of his properties in Bulawayo and Harare, valued at about $17 million, through vexatious court processes.
In his latest bid to block DPC from transferring the assets, his lawyers had argued in court that the first judgment made against him had been granted in error.
But High Court judge Justice Nyaradzo Priscilla Munangati-Manongwa has dismissed the application.
“The defendants’ point is … dismissed with costs. The defendant’s’ claim in reconvention is struck off with cost,” reads the judgment.
“In the light of an acknowledgement by the defendants that leave to institute proceedings was not sought by the defendants as required by s213 which is peremptory, and in the absence of any other defence raised being procedural or otherwise, the court has no option but to strike out defendant’s counter-claim with costs.”
Allied Bank, majority owned by a vehicle linked to Mpofu, had its licence cancelled by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in January 2015 after it was found to be in an unsafe financial position.
Following the cancellation of the bank’s operating licence, Mpofu was asked to pay $16 790 000 to the liquidator, but this did not happen.
In April 2015, Trebo & Khays (Private) Limited — the investment vehicle owned by Mpofu — made an undertaking to transfer five properties in Bulawayo and one in Harare to Allied Bank with a combined value of $16 790 000, according to court papers.
This was in terms of the subscription agreement entered between Trebo & Khays and Allied Bank.
DPC then claimed that Mpofu refused to surrender the properties in breach of the agreement, prompting the claim against him.
This forced DPC, represented by Sternford Moyo, to apply for Mpofu’s companies namely Trebo & Khays, Khanondo Safaris and Tours (Private) Limited and Moya Security (Private) Limited, to be transferred into the name of the liquidator.
Mpofu, his companies and his wife, Sikhanyisiwe, however, made a counter claim and raised preliminary points to the application, which were struck off by the High Court.
Subsequent to that, the minister made another claim at the High Court, and applied for a rescission of the judgment.
Mpofu was arguing that the first judgment was erroneously sought and erroneously granted in the absence of the applicants.
Chenjerai Daitai, who was representing the Mpofus in the matter, had argued that the purported application to strike his client’s request was not a chamber application or a court application as provided for in the High Court Rules.
“Accordingly, the honourable court ought not to have entertained the document as an application. Order 32 Rule 226 of the High Court Rules, provides that all applications made for whatever purpose in terms of these rules or any other law other than an application made orally during the course of a hearing shall be either made as a court application, that is in writing to the court on notice to all interested parties or as a chamber application, that is to say in writing to a judge,” the court heard.
“In the premises therefore, the applicants seek an order in terms of the draft . . . for the rescission of the honourable court’s judgment in the principal proceedings granted on May 17, 2017,” Daitai said.