Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono’s bid to avoid paying Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) a $247 000 debt, arising from the sale of shares of a printing company, yesterday hit a snag after High Court judge Justice Amie Tsanga dismissed his counter-application on the basis that it had no merit.
Gono is being sued by AMH for refusing to settle a debt after entering into an agreement to purchase the printing firm called Tunatemore Printers.
AMH are the publishers of NewsDay, The Standard, Southern Eye and the Zimbabwe Independent.
Gono’s indebtedness to AMH arose sometime in 2009, when the latter sold its 25% shareholding in Tunatemore Printers to Gono’s firm, Globe Flowers, for $675 000.
AMH had 25% shares in Tunatemore Printers and Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe also had shares in the same company.
AMH later sold its shares to Gono after it bought its own printing press.
After entering into an agreement, Gono paid $428 000 leaving a balance of $247 000, which after being approached to settle in 2013, he then became evasive and later demanded a refund claiming he was no longer interested in the deal.
After receiving summons from AMH, Gono made a counter-claim arguing AMH had not, in the initial agreement, told him the truth about its 25% ownership of Tunatemore saying he thought he had bought 100% shares, an assertion AMH dismissed as unfounded.
Through his lawyer, Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, Gono insisted he had a claim for a refund against AMH, but his efforts went up in smoke after AMH’s lawyer, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, made an application before the court that Gono’s claim, if at all it ever existed, had expired in terms of the law.
“This is a clear abuse of the court process which, if we had known, we should have asked for costs at a higher scale,” Mpofu said.
“Plaintiff (AMH) is owed by defendant (Globe Flowers) and defendant has been acknowledging liability. A statutory position cannot be waived; if it says do things this way, it has to be done,” Mpofu said, referring to the period within which Gono ought to have filed his cross-claim.
Mpofu said, for over three years, Gono had been making promises to settle his debt, while acknowledging liability, but, for reasons best known to himself, he, at a later stage after making part-payments, then decided to renege on his promise and opted to file a counter-claim.
After hearing submissions from both parties, Justice Tsanga upheld Mpofu’s special plea and ruled that Gono’s cross-claim had expired in terms of the law and must defend himself against AMH’s claim.
Gono’s lawyer, however, indicated he would appeal to the Supreme Court against Justice Tsanga’s judgment.