By Tendai Kamhungira
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been named in an ugly court case in which prominent businessman Kudakwashe Tagwirei accuses his former business partner, youthful legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena, of extortion — following an out-of-court agreement that has since turned sour.
Tagwirei is the proprietor of diversified conglomerate Sakunda Holdings which has vast interests in energy, mining, power and agriculture.
Wadyajena, the feisty MP for Gokwe-Nembudziya, and Tagwirei were once business partners before the latter turned to politics in the run-up to the 2013 harmonised elections.
In the papers filed at the High Court yesterday by Wadyajena — where he is seeking to have Tagwirei pay him an outstanding $2 million — Mnangagwa is said to have mediated between the two former business associates, leading to the withdrawal of Wadyajena’s $7 million lawsuit against Tagwirei that had been lodged at the Supreme Court as damages claims following a business disagreement.
In his summary of evidence that has now been filed before the High Court, Wadyajena said that he and Mnangagwa would give evidence in the case following the president’s prior involvement in the matter, as he seeks to end the ugly dispute with his former business partner.
“At the trial of this matter, plaintiffs will lead evidence from Justice Mayor Wadyajena and His Excellency, the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe Honourable Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa,” the court has been told.
The main civil case, according to the court papers, involved a matter in which Wadyajena initially demanded a total of $7 121 064,07 from Tagwirei in proceedings that went as far as the Supreme Court.
“Whilst this appeal was pending, third defendant (Tagwirei) approached the then vice president of Zimbabwe Honourable Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, requesting that the then honourable vice president mediate between the parties with a view to having the $7 121 064,07 claim pending in the Supreme Court withdrawn in favour of an out-of-court settlement.
“Following the mediation efforts by the then vice president as aforesaid, a verbal out-of-court settlement was ultimately reached between the parties in terms of which the Supreme Court appeal case was withdrawn by the mutual consent of the parties — on the condition, among other things, that defendant pays plaintiff $2,6 million,” the court was told.
The agreement was later put down formally in April last year, with Tagwirei subsequently paying Wadyajena $616 334. However, the former was now reneging on the outstanding $2 million, leading to the fresh suit, according to Wadyajena.
In response, Tagwirei claims that the agreement that the two had entered into after mediation had been premised on alleged “threats of extortion”.
“Whilst the fact of the purported agreement is conceded, defendants aver that the agreement was entered into as a direct result and only because of threats of extortion.
“The contract was illegal and void, or alternatively voidable — a product of extortion and or duress,” Tagwirei said, demanding the dismissal of Wadyajena’s claim.
But Wadyajena insists that the agreement was entered into by both parties freely and voluntarily.
“The defendants are put to the strictest proof of their claims of extortion and duress. In any event, the defendants have just made bold allegations of extortion and duress. The particulars of the alleged extortion and duress have not been pleaded.
“If there was any truth of their claims, defendants reasonably ought to have filed a police report, which was never done because the allegations are unfounded and are simply a reaction to plaintiff’s claim for specific performance,” he said.
Wadyajena asserted further that Tagwirei was never coerced or extorted into signing the agreement.
“After plaintiffs had duly and fully complied with the terms of the agreement, defendants paid three belated instalments totalling only $616 334.
“Thereafter, and despite demand and despite fervent promises by defendants’ legal practitioners that overdue payment would be made, defendants then completely stopped making any further payments,” the court was told.
Wadyajena said Tagwirei’s lawyers also sought ”indulgences and time extensions” concerning tender performances, in terms of the agreement.
The court papers say Mnangagwa is apparently willing to testify that he was approached by Tagwirei over the long-standing civil and criminal disputes between the two parties, including the claim of $7 121 064,07 which was pending before the Supreme Court.
Wadyajena also says Mnangagwa will come to court to give evidence to the effect that following his mediation, the parties ultimately came to a verbal agreement whose terms were as follows: that the Supreme Court appeal case be withdrawn by the mutual consent of first plaintiff and first defendant on condition that third defendant and/or any of his companies pays first plaintiff $2,5 million following such withdrawal.
“That third defendant and/or any of his companies immediately purchases a brand new motor vehicle for first plaintiff at a value of $100 000 so that first plaintiff would then vacate No. 152 Robert Mugabe Road (Tagwirei’s property he had occupied) and that the agreement relating to certain trucks be respected.” DailyNews