A LAWYER barred by the High Court from representing state mining group — Zimbabwe Minerals Development Corporation (ZMDC) and Marange Resources — Farai Mutamangira — was paid close to US$1 million for a case another legal firm handled despite concerns of “apparent conflict” of interest, former ZMDC CEO Dominic Mubayiwa claimed in court papers.
In an affidavit deposed with the High Court last year, former ZMDC boss Mubayiwa says Mutamangira and his law firm were paid US$950 000 for a case involving African Consolidated Resources which was handled by Sawyer& Mkushi.
Sawyer & Mkushi represented ZMDC in its battle to wrest a diamond claim ACR claims rights to.
ACR, the London stock exchange listed mining junior, was kicked out of Chiadzwa diamond fields in 2006, but is still legally fighting to reclaim its rights to the concession.
Mubayiwa deposed the affidavit challenging his dismissal from employment in October last year. He claims the disciplinary committee was not duly constituted adding the hearing had been full of malice, bias and “absence of an environment conducive to a fair hearing”.
He claimed that ZMDC chairman Goodwills Masimirembwa “wanted to cause” him to change the company’s lawyers from Sawyer & Mkushi legal practitioners to Gula Ndebele & Partners or Hogwe & Partners without board approval.
“On 20th July 2010, Masimirembwa wanted to cause me to change the ZMDC’s corporate lawyers from Sawyer & Mkushi Legal Practitioners to Gula Ndebele & Partners and/or Hogwe & Partners Legal Practitioners. Alternatively Masimirembwa wanted the Corporation to engage Mutamangira and Associates while Hogwe & Partners Legal Practitioners could be appointed as MMCZ lawyers where he again served as board member,” reads Mubayiwa’s affidavit. “I advised him against such appointments as there was apparent conflict of interest arising from each of the appointments. Furthermore a change of lawyers required a board resolution which did not exist.”
Mubayiwa claims the advice “did not go well” with Masimirembwa.
“Masimirembwa proceeded to appoint Mutamangira & Associates the corporation lawyers contrary to advice that there could be apparent conflict of interest. He caused the corporation and its associate companies to pay US$950 000 for services rendered in the Africa Consolidated Resources dispute with ZMDC when ZMDC was represented by Sawyer & Mkushi and the latter had been paid their fees,” he averred.
This week, High Court judge Justice Susan Mavangira barred Mutangmira and his legal firm — Mutamangira and Associates — from representing ZMDC and Marange Resources.
The ruling came after an urgent chamber application by George Chikumbirike, who is representing Core Mining, who objected to Mutamangira’s representation of ZMDC and Marange Resources arguing the lawyer was an interested party.
Chikumbirike said Mutamangira should not have appeared in proceedings where it was resolved to take over Core Mining without following proper procedure as a legal practitioner of ZMDC and Marange Resources, but should have appeared as their agent.
The basis for Chikumbirike’s argument was that Mutamangira was “intimately and emotionally” interested in matters involving ZMDC and Marange Resources and Core Mining.
Chikumbirike also claimed Mutamangira was involved in investigations into Core Mining that resulted in the prosecution of its shareholders.
He further submitted that Mutamangira & Associates ought not to be allowed to represent ZMDC and Marange Resources as the affidavit they filed on behalf of their clients were prepared and commissioned by their law firm.
Chikumbirike further submitted that Mutamangira and/or his firm should have advised their clients accordingly and consequently of the need for a different firm to represent them as their legal practitioners while they would only act or appear as agents for the said clients.
In his defence, Mutamangira said allegations made against him were based on speculation. He denied ever conducting investigations into the operations of Core Mining and ZMDC.