Zimbabwe: Lawyer in Court Over Conflict of Interest

Senior lawyer Simplisius Julius Chihambakwe has appeared at the Harare Magistrates' Courts facing allegations of failing to declare his interests to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) where he was a board member when his law firm started collecting money owed to the authority.

Chihambakwe, of Chihambakwe, Mutizwa and Partners, appeared before Harare regional magistrate Mr Trynos Utahwashe yesterday charged with corruptly concealing an interest from a principal.

While collecting Zesa debts, the law firm earned US$3 098 248 commission.

Chihambakwe was not asked to plead to the charges and was remanded to 21 August for routine remand on $10 000 bail.

The State led by Ms Sheila Mupindu alleges that in January 2016, Chihambakwe, Mutizwa and Partners started collecting debts on behalf of Zesa's distribution arm, ZETDC, without signing a contract.

At the time, Chihambakwe was a board member of Zesa and he allegedly failed to disclose his interests.

On 31 May 2016, the law firm is said to have received US$5 000 as debt collection disbursement from ZESA Holdings.

The court heard that the matter was raised during the Zesa Holdings 36th board of directors committee meeting held on May 26, 2016.

Chihambakwe is said to have later declared his interests as a senior partner in the law firm.

It is alleged that Chihambakwe later signed the contract for debt collection on 3 June 2016 but that there was no Zesa board resolution then and none until the end of the board's term.

The court heard that from January 2016 to December last year, the law firm was paid commissions totalling US$3 098 248.

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