BY CHARLES LAITON
High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi has dismissed an application to rescind a judgment compelling Meikles to pay over $3,6 million owed to the Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ).
According to the court papers, in 2016 Meikles Limited consented to an order being made in IDBZ’s favour for the payment of the debt, but later Meikles said it realised it had a defence to offer in the claim, hence it wanted a rescission of the same judgment.
The listed conglomerate argued that government, which is indebted to Meikles, should settle the company’s debt to the IDBZ.
The government debt, which is in the region of $42 million, arose after it assumed all the debts of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), including one owed to Meikles after the central bank raided individual and corporate foreign currency accounts to finance the numerous farmer-support schemes the bank embarked on during the tenure of former governor Gideon Gono.
But the court said IDBZ was a distinct separate personality from the government of Zimbabwe in that it had a total of ten shareholders, including foreign companies like the Finnish Fund for Industrial Co-operation, the German Investment and Development Company, the Netherlands Development Finance Company and the European Investment Bank.
In his judgment, Justice Mathonsi castigated the conglomerate for its application, saying its proposed defence of indemnity “appears to be a pie in the sky”.
“Does the applicant have a leg to stand on regarding the indemnity argument as to motivate a rescission of the order? I think not,” he said.
“In my view, this is a case in which the applicant (Meikles) ought to have known that there was absolutely no merit in the application, even before the making of it.
“It is such a frivolous and, indeed, vexatious application as to amount to an abuse of process. This is particularly so, regard being heard that after consenting to judgment, the applicant only waited until the day of execution to engage in this misadventure, thereby frustrating the pursuit of a legitimate claim while buying time. The fruit of such a misadventure is an award of costs on an adverse scale. In the result, the application is dismissed with costs on a legal practitioner and client scale.”
“Therefore, by the time the applicant was issued in HC9880/15 and later consented to judgment, all the facts that it proposes to rely upon in its newly found defence already existed. They are facts which it reasonably was expected to be aware of, especially as the respondent is a statutory corporation. This is not a case in which I can exercise my discretion in favour of the applicant,” Justice Mathonsi said before dismissing Meikles’s matter.
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