BY CHARLES LAITON
Ecocash (Pvt) Ltd, whose property had been set for attachment by Dr Dish (Pvt) Ltd over a subscription fee debt, has petitioned the High Court seeking an order to interdict and restrain Dr Dish from interfering with its business operations, accusing the latter of executing wrong property.
According to the court papers, sometime early this year, Dr Dish obtained an order against Econet Media Limited, Econet Kwese Television (Pvt) Ltd and Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe for the payment of $1 716 800, which was due in subscription revenue.
However, on February 22, 2019 when Dr Dish executive director and chairman, Nyasha Muzavazi, in the company of the Sheriff of the High Court, visited Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe premises in Borrowdale, they faced resistance from EcoCash (Pvt) Ltd officials who thwarted the execution and dissociated themselves from Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe.
This then prompted EcoCash chief executive officer Natalie Jabangwe to petition the court for an interdict and restraining order.
“This is an urgent chamber applicant for interim relief in the form of orders interdicting and restraining respondents (Dr Dish and Sheriff) from executing the order granted by this court in the matter of Dr Dish Private Limited vs Econet Media Limited and two others HC 1304/19 against the applicant (EcoCash), at the premises known as 1906 Borrowdale Road, Harare pending the return day,” Jabangwe said in her founding affidavit.
“. . . It, therefore, becomes apparent that the first respondent (Dr Dish) is seeking to execute an order which was granted by this court against a party who is not cited and in respect of systems which are not owned or controlled by the respondents against whom the applicant has been brought . . . suffice to state that the applicant is a stand-alone company, completely separate and distinct from the rest of the companies which fall under Cassava.
“…It is on this basis that the attendees were informed that they were at the wrong premises and that they must find their respondents where they are located. They left the premises ostensibly to file a report against Cassava with the police.”
However, Muzavazi opposed EcoCash’s application insisting his company had carried out investigations and established that EcoCash (Pvt) Ltd was not in any way different from Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe.
“The applicant avers that it is wholly owned by Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe Limited. They further aver that Cassava and the applicant are housed in the same building that is at number 1906 Borrowdale Road. I wish further to state that I noticed, when we visited the premises that, other than EcoCash activities, apparent in the business there is no sign, billboard or banner suggesting that the premises house a company by the first applicant’s name,” Muzavazi.
“What is visibly apparent is that the company doing business at that address is Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe Limited. All billboards and banners thereat clearly spell out the principal business operator is Cassava, which I know as the applicant’s holding company.”
Muzavazi further said when he visited number 1906, Borrowdale Road, he noticed that the holding company, Cassava also did business under the banner of Ecosure, adding it was apparent that there was the holding company Cassava, then EcoCash and also Ecosure.
“The staff are basically the same, the premise are the same, the equipment used is the same and there is virtually no distinction on which entity does which business, or has which staff and uses which equipment from furniture, stationary to computers,” he said.
“To that extent an attempt to separate these entities, other than considering them as a single economic entity is fraud, designed to evade outstanding legal obligations. The attempt therefore by the applicant to dissociate itself from its holding company Cassava, is a clear subterfuge and if the applicant submission is taken it would clearly result in an injustice and justifying a wrong knowing it to be so.”
The matter is pending.