Zimbabwe: Telecel Files U.S.$1.7 Million Lawsuit

Telecoms

Telecel Zimbabwe has filed a US$1,7 million lawsuit against its two former directors - Jane Mutasa and Naquib Omar - claiming damages for alleged mismanagement of the mobile phone service firm's affairs. Jane Mutasa is also the company's board chairperson. The alleged conduct of the two is linked to the case in, which the company lost over US$700,000 in an airtime scam in 2009.

Attorney General Johannes Tomana declined to prosecute Jane Mutasa and Naquib Omar. Telecel's bid to conduct private prosecution was also dismissed. The mobile phone utility then challenged the dismissal of the private prosecution application at the High Court and the ruling has been pending since last year. Pending determination of the challenge, the company has filed the civil lawsuit against the two.

Former commercial director Naquib Omar and another ex-director Jane Mutasa are being accused of failing to competently manage proper accounts and business records of Telecel between August 1 and October 31 2009. As a result of the alleged mismanagement, the company claims it lost US$1,725,875 during the period in question.

In the summons issued by Telecel lawyer Godfrey Mamvura of Scanlen and Holderness last week, the two are being sued in their personal capacities. Telecel is seeking to have the pair ordered to pay the costs of the suit. Harare lawyer Jonathan Samukange last week filed a notice of appearance to defend the matter at the High Court.

Jane Mutasa, who was appointed director on January 29 2007 and Naquib Omar, who was appointed commercial director in October 1998, had the mandate to protect the interests of the company. They allegedly breached such obligations in various respects leading to a great financial prejudice to the company.

Naquib Omar is being accused of authorising the delivery of airtime cards to Oxygon, a company owned by Jane Mutasa on manual invoices without a proper record of the transactions against Telecel's policy. The policy, at the time, prohibited the use of the manual invoices and Naquib Omar for unknown reasons, is alleged to have allowed that to happen, a development that resulted in the communication firm losing over a million dollars.

Omar is alleged to have instructed one of his subordinates to surrender the manual invoice book to Jane Mutasa knowing that she was the one in control of Oxygon. The said actions destroyed the records as the manual invoice book in question later went missing.

"As a result of the failure by both the first and second defendant to keep the proper business records and diligently fulfil their fiduciary duty, the plaintiff failed to recover from its creditors S$1 725 875, which represents goods delivered to creditors from August to October 2009." No payment was received for the goods in questions, the company says.

Telecel and Mutasa have been embroiled in several legal battles and they have been suing and counter-suing each other since 2009. Most of the lawsuits are still pending at the High Court.