12 February 2019

Zimbabwe: High Court Judge Blasts Ex-Minister for Producing Fake Invoices to Avoid Paying Debts

Former deputy agriculture minister Paddy Zhanda produced fake invoices at the High Court in a bid to avoid property at his mine being attached over a debt.

The undisclosed amount was owed the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA).

Zhanda, who is also the former MP for Goromonzi North and son Michael, had approached the High Court seeking an order barring the Sheriff of the High Court from attaching mining property worth thousands of dollars on behalf of ZINWA.

The sheriff had, last year, attached property at Learing Mine in Goromonzi which included an 8-tonne truck, two boom sprayers and a compressor.

In their application, Zhanda and his son told the court that the attached property did not belong to the mine.

They insisted that it was their personal property and should, thus, be returned to them.

However, Justice Neville Wamambo said documents supplied by Zhanda and Michael to prove the mine was not the lawful owner of the attached property were fake.

"The invoice appears manufactured and tailor made to defeat the judgment creditor's (ZINWA) lawful claim," the judge said.

"It does not even identify the object of the transaction. The address on the invoice is foreign but there are no transit and customs papers attached. Anyone can just create a receipt similar to this one."

He added; "To prove this they attached invoices A and A1. A is an invoice in the name of 1st claimant (Zhanda) in Afrikaans.

"The invoice was not translated into English. All I can discern are figures, presumably of the values of the items specified. The invoices produced do not prove ownership."

Justice Wamambo also accused the former minister of producing a suspicious quotation.

"The quotation is suspicious as the business address inserted in the body of the quotation contrary to the normal course of business. It is further argued that the quotation was tailor made to defeat the execution," he said.

In his ruling, Justice Wamambo said there was no proof of any mining operations taking place at Learing Mine.

"The documents produced by the claimants as proof of ownership left a lot to be desired. On first claimant's production of two receipts, the receipts do not correlate with the quotation produced.

"This may be explained by the period between the date of issuing of the invoice which is 17 October 2014 and the issuing of the receipts on 8 February 2015 and 28 August 2017.

"Why would a buyer produce an invoice he obtained in 2014 when he has receipts reflecting that he paid part of the purchase price in 2015 and 2017?

"The probable reason is that there was an oversight on the dates because the documents are probably doctored," he said in his ruling before dismissing the claim with costs.

Zhanda was one of several ministers who were removed from government following the removal of President Robert Mugabe from office in 2017.

He and the other ministers were accused of being part of the Zanu PF's G40 faction. Zhanda went on to lose Zanu PF's Goromonzi North constituency primary elections last year.

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