Another bruising battle is looming at Telecel Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (Telecel) as company chairman James Makamba has furtively sought to eject one of his Empowerment Corporation (EC) partners and board member Gerald Mlotshwa.
This also comes as the grabby businessman is locked in a $2,8 million lawsuit with another EC associate George Manyere over 2015-2016 monies given to him as deposit for a major stake in the empowerment vehicle and securitised by his Kestrel Corporation (Private) Limited (Kestrel) shares.
“We refer to the letter dated 16 May 2018 addressed to you by… Makamba, in which he purports to withdraw the nomination of Mr Mlotshwa as a director of Telecel Zimbabwe Limited with immediate effect,” Mlotshwa’s lawyers Mushoriwa Pasi said in a May 18 rejoinder.
“It is our considered view that the purported withdrawal is invalid as it fails to comply with the provisions of section 175 of the Companies… which clearly outlines the procedure… for the removal of a director,” they said, adding “any other procedures outside the law were void and of no force nor effect”.
While Mlotshwa has made a strong argument that he “has not resigned from the board and was entitled to transacting the company’s business” until such a removal was legally sanctioned or sound, the machinations come as Makamba has decidedly moved to repudiate a May 2017 share purchase agreement and unilaterally seek to oust the former without an EC board meeting or resolution.
Following an acquisition of the firm’s majority shareholding by Manyere’s Ecsponent Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (Ecsponent), which the Kestrel owner acknowledges, the Titan Law senior partner, ex-Brainworks Capital founder and Walter Kambwanji were appointed to the local empowerment grouping’s board, and subsequently Telecel in August last year.
With the deal set to be completed when Makamba returned to Harare in early December – under an arrangement amply facilitated by Mlotshwa and through an extra-ordinary general meeting called by the former Zanu PF provincial chairman himself – the transaction was held up due to political infighting in president Robert Mugabe’s government at the time.
Now, it would seem the ex-Thurlows supermarket operator is bent on taking full advantage of that lost momentum and external interference by withholding the Ecsponent share certificates, thus raising serious suspicions about his business ethic and way of doing things.
“In a desperate bid to hang onto Telecel, Makamba has initiated all these illegal moves to oust Mlotshwa from after a voluntary process in which he sold all his shares to Manyere and the lawyer. It is not only shocking how the man has chosen to trash and mess someone who was even looking after his family, but the behaviour – and stunt – reeks of bad faith and duplicity,” a source said.
“Apart from fixing the Telecel chairman’s legal issues, including outstanding arrest warrants, the Ktulu Nominees owner was even protecting the fellow… when tensions were brewing between the EC principals. And after his reported trip to South Africa last week, l don’t see him coming back to Zimbabwe where the likes of his aggrieved lawyer will be waiting to discipline him,” they added.
‘We may even see a scenario where Makamba could be extradited back to the country and, remember, this was a guy so used to abusing the fallen dictator and his wife Grace as an excuse for staying in self-exile in Johannesburg, and other foreign destinations.”
Besides fighting his presumed business partners, the flamboyant businessman recently put himself in the crosshairs of many government officials after being caught – on tape – savaging Information, and Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira and others.
In the same audio, Makamba is heard asking of how “he can make his Manyere debt disappear” and in remarks seen as “dangerous, and smacing of sinister motives”.
Amid swirling rumours that the controversial businesman might have skipped the border again – in a clear demonstration of the depth and extent of his problems in Zimbabwe – analysts say his “fraudulent May 16 letter could be his greatest undoing, and archilles heel”.
The development also comes as new information indicates that Makamba and another EC shareholder Jane Mutasa could be axed from the Telecel board to pave way for a thorough investigation into their ‘dubious record, and activities’ at the institution.
While the Kestrel owner was to be paid $13 million for his stake, the balance of the money was to be settled via legal fees – running into millions – and cash from Mlotshwa, and Manyere.
As such, Ecsponent not only managed to pay a $3,8 million deposit, but also committed to distributing some shares to a number of the founding EC promoters – and a set of decisions now under threat from Makamba’s self-serving, and expedient actions.
Even, though, the ex-radio jockey had agreed to settle the debt – in a move aimed at salvaging the deal – his defense has now changed to claims that Mlotshwa had “agreed to help him with the money and only him could make demands” from the embattled businessman.