HomeNewsFormer Hwange Colliery Company board seeks return

Former Hwange Colliery Company board seeks return

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BY CHARLES LAITON

FORMER Hwange Colliery Company Limited board of directors, which was in 2018 dismissed by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi through a reconstruction order, is now angling to return to the company following the dismissal of the application for the confirmation of the reconstruction order by the High Court.

The board chairperson, Juliana Muskwe, has written to the incumbent board led by Bhekithemba Moyo, requesting them to step down in compliance with the recent judgment by Justice David Mangota.

Last week, Justice Mangota dismissed Ziyambi’s bid to put Hwange Colliery Company under reconstruction, saying the minister failed to justify his move because a scheme of arrangement, which was ratified by the government and other shareholders with a view to salvage the coal mining firm from collapse, was still operational.

Justice Mangota’s judgment came after Ziyambi had approached the court with the application for the confirmation of the reconstruction order, apparently without consulting other shareholders, saying the problems afflicting the Colliery Company needed swift action to avert possible liquidation.

But in his lengthy judgment delivered on February 12, Justice Mangota said: “In the absence of a written report from, or by, the Minister of Mines and Mining Development (Winston Chitando), therefore, the minister (Ziyambi) appears to have issued the order out of nothing.”

Justice Mangota further said Ziyambi ought to have proved what he claimed to have been in existence when he issued the reconstruction order.

However, on February 17, 2020, Muskwe’s lawyers Chinyama Attorneys Legal Practitioners wrote to Moyo highlighting the need for him and his assistants to step-down.

“We (Chinyama Attorneys) act on behalf of the Juliana Muskwe-led board of directors, the board in place immediately before the reconstruction order of October 26, 2018 was issued,” the lawyers said.

“You (Moyo) may now be aware that the High Court of Zimbabwe dismissed the application for the confirmation of the reconstruction order by the Minister of Justice. The effect of the said judgment was to set aside the reconstruction order.

“In the result, we kindly request you and your assistant administrators to immediately cease presiding over the affairs of Hwange Colliery Company Limited. Such affairs now fall under the jurisdiction of the board of directors following the dismissal of the application for confirmation of the reconstruction order which appointed you.”

The lawyers warned Moyo that any transactions by him or any of his assistant administrators after the High Court judgment would be illegal.

“Should you not vacate the office, you shall be in contempt of court,” they said.

In 2018, Ziyambi told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines chaired by Norton legislator Temba Mliswa that the company owed government $150 million and had posted a $23 million loss in the half year to June of the same year.

He then said as Justice minister, the law empowered him to put any company under reconstruction without consulting other shareholders if necessary.

But his move was opposed by a trustee of the Debenture holders of Hwange and chairman of the court-sanctioned Scheme of Arrangement, Andrew Lawson, and a legal entity called Messina Investments.

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