Daniel Nemukuyu, Harare Bureau
AT least 19 former legislators who were expelled from Parliament two years ago have been dragged to court over failure to repay vehicle loans totalling $364 000.
The loans were extended to all Members of Parliament which they used to purchase Ford Ranger double cab vehicles on the understanding the money would be recovered from their seating allowances.
However, 19 were expelled from Parliament before settlement of their debts. Parliament separately issued summons at the High Court claiming the outstanding money from each of them. Chihambakwe, Mutizwa and Partners issued the summons on behalf of the Parliament of Zimbabwe during the period extending from November last year to early this month.
The outstanding loans range between $11 000 and $33 200 per individual.
Topping the least is Mr Kudakwashe Bhasikiti with a highest figure of $33 200. Dr Olivia Muchena is being sued for $32 000 while Mr Gorden Moyo faces a $28 318 suit.
Parliament is claiming $28 590 from Mr Settlement Chikwinya, $26 535 from Mr Solomon Madzore and $25 370 from Mr Paul Madzore. Ms Evelyn Muzungu-Masaiti faces a claim of $21 858 while Mr Moses Manyengavana is being sued for $22 384. Parliament wants $21 719 from Dr Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, $22 313 from Ms Lucia Matibenga and $22 642 from Mrs Roselene Nkomo.
Mr Watchy Sibanda allegedly owes Parliament $11 308 while Mr Reggie Moyo is being sued for $14 894. Mr Albert Mhlanga is being sued for $19 988, Ms Gladys Mathe $14 064 and Ms Judith Mazhawazhi $13 771.
Parliament is also claiming $17 989 from Mr David Butau and $15 749 from Mr Bekithemba Nyathi. Mr Dzikamai Mavhaire is also being sued for thousands of dollars.
The majority of the defendants have not yet filed pleas but Tendai Biti Law firm has filed notices of appearance to defend on their behalf. Mr Bhasikiti has filed his plea arguing the loan agreement existed between him and the Treasury and that Parliament has no right to sue.
“Defendant accepts that he entered into an agreement with the Government of Zimbabwe through Treasury, represented by Parliament.
“Therefore, the true contract is between Treasury of the Government of Zimbabwe and the defendant.
“The plaintiff has no right to institute any legal proceedings against the same for it is not the lender,” reads Mr Bhasikiti’s plea.
It is also argued that Government, through Cabinet, has not sanctioned the proceedings hence they are null and void. Instead, Mr Bhasikiti filed a counter claim of $1 800 he says Parliament owes him in outstanding seating allowances and fuel. Mr Nyathi also filed a plea and his defence is similar to that of Mr Bhasikiti. He also filed a counter claim of $19 251 for unpaid allowances and fuel.
In respect of Mrs Nkomo, Mr Reggie Moyo and Mr Paul Madzore, Parliament lawyers have filed applications for default judgment.
The High Court is yet to determine the request.
According to Parliament, the agreement was verbal. Government extended loans to all interested MPs for the purposes of purchasing vehicles. Repayment, according to the agreement, was to be done through a stop order against the MPs’ Parliamentary allowances.
In the event of the defendants being expelled from Parliament, the creditor would be entitled to claim the balance of the loan plus other expenses to recover the debt.