SUSPENDED Zimbabwe Mirror Group of Newspapers CEO and editor-in-chief Ibbo Mandaza’s case took a dramatic twist yesterday after the Mirror board summoned him to a disciplinary committee hearing despite an ongoing court battle.
Mandaza’s attorney Joseph Mandizha said yesterday Mirror chairman Jonathan Kadzura had written to his client on Tuesday summoning to a disciplinary hearing next Monday at the company’s boardroom at Charter House.
Mandaza was recently suspended from the Mirror by disputed group chair Kadzura and his deputy John Marangwanda in the wake of disclosures about the takeover of the Mirror titles, the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) using public funds. The CIO also has an interest in the Financial Gazette.
Mandizha said Kadzura’s letter this week to Mandaza contained eight allegations of fraud framed as “purported grounds” for his suspension almost two months after the action.
The lawyer said he would today approach the High Court in terms of an earlier consent order issued by Justice Bharat for the matter to go for arbitration.
Mandizha’s remarks came as the chairman of the panel formed to hear and determine the “propriety” of Mandaza’s suspension, former chief justice Anthony Gubbay, issued a ruling yesterday following Monday’s initial hearing, saying his team had no jurisdiction to hear the case.
Gubbay said the panel, which includes former Institute of Chartered Accountants president David Vincent and chairman of the Institute of Directors Much Masunda, could not deal with the issue since it was not a labour court unless Patel’s ruling had directed that the case be heard in terms of the Arbitration Act.
Mandizha said he would file an application with the court today seeking relief.
“It’s an option we are going to exercise. Dr Mandaza finds Kadzura’s letter extremely in bad faith and in bad taste and wants the protection of the court,” Mandizha said.
“He was only served now with the purported grounds of suspension. There are eight charges of alleged fraud which allegedly emanate from the (Ernst & Young) audit report although the report does not sustain such charges. All these charges are contrived and Kadzura knows that.”
The Monday hearing got off to a false start and eventually collapsed after the parties to the case failed to agree on the route of proceedings. – Staff Writer.