THE Supreme Court has dismissed a petition by a consortium of local architects, surveyors and engineers known as Corisco Design Team (Codet) seeking an order to compel ZimSun Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd to pay $16 million in outstanding consultancy fees for the construction of an upmarket Equatorial Guinea hotel.
BY CHARLES LAITON
According to court papers, Zimsun, also known as African Sun Leisure (Pvt) Ltd, had apparently acted as an agent for the government of Equatorial Guinea and sought consultancy services from Codet to build two hotels and a tourism training school in that country.
This, according to court papers, was after President of the Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, while on a State visit to Zimbabwe sometime in 2006, was accommodated at Elephant Hills Hotel in Victoria Falls and was impressed by its majestic architectural design and quality of service, thus he desired to have a similar hotel constructed and run on the same standards in his home country.
Codet claimed that ZimSun engaged them in April 2007 as consultants for the purposes of designing and developing hotel and training school buildings for the Equatorial Guinea government.
The consortium further argued that ZimSun had instructed them to prepare architectural, engineering designs, technical documentation and all other project designs and documentation, adding the hospitality group also instructed Codet to meet the project costs relating to the development of the hotels.
However, ZimSun filed its opposing papers denying ever entering into an agreement with Codet.
The hospitality company argued that Codet had no right to claim any payment from it and that the work done was carried out at the parties’ risk.
Payment, according to ZimSun, would have been made upon approval of the designs which apparently were rejected by the Equatorial Guinea’s government on the basis of high costs.
ZimSun denied hiring Codet as alleged.
In his judgment delivered on July 11, 2018, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu said: “On the basis of the above facts and summation of evidence, costs at a higher scale are well deserved in this case. It is accordingly ordered that: − the application for absolution from the instance at the close of the plaintiff’s (Corisco Design Team) case be and is, hereby, allowed. That Ozwell Manyara shall bear the applicant’s wasted costs at the legal practitioner and client scale.”
Justice Bhunu further said: “It appears that members of Codet are only interested in recovering that which they claim in their individual capacities. If they were to be paid the money will go straight into their individual pockets and not any company account. This is because the respondent (Codet) owns no property and has no bank account.
“… Eleven years after the alleged agreement, the respondent (Codet) has no prospectus, bank account, memorandum of association or Constitution nor does it own any property. What this means is that, anyone doing business with the respondent will suffer irretrievable loss in the event of things going wrong. This is because it is virtually a non-existent legal entity. Its purported agent, representative or fiduciary, Benox Mugabe has not initiated or authorised the suit against the applicant (ZimSun).