News Column

Government Ignoring Court Order On Zambezi Portland Cement

June 2, 2014

Evans Mulenga



New documents obtained by Zambia Reports show that the Patriotic Front (PF) government has ignored a crucial High Court ruling to allegedly benefit the multimillionaire Finance Bank Chairman Rajan Mahtani in the case of Zambezi Portland Cement (ZPC).

According to an injunction signed by Judge Munalula Lisimba, the High Court has recognized the 2010 Supreme Court ruling on the true ownership of the $160 million Ndola-based company, preventing other directors from convening meetings of the board of directors pending the restoration of the original company owners Antonio Ventriglia and Manuela Sebastiani.

"The 1st and 2nd Plaintiffs have an arguable claim to the right they seek to protect by an order of injunction in that they have been given powers by the Supreme Court to manage and administer Zambezi Portland Cement Limited," Judge Lisimba wrote in the ruling.

The injunction, however, has failed to be observed by Mahtani's people at the company, prompting the ZPC founders to initiate contempt of court proceedings.

Zambia Reports has obtained several key documents relating to the contempt proceedings signed by Mr Andrew Kamanga, who was illegally nominated as managing director of ZPC in spite of the injunction.

A sham board meeting was convened by Mahtani in violation of the court order on December 3, 2012 in order to appoint Mr Kamanga as the CEO of ZPC after other senior management, Daniele Ventriglia and Valerio Ventriglia, had been illegally deported under suspicious circumstances. In response, the original company owners filed committal proceedings against PTA Bank and Robert Simeza, the receivers, for violating the injunction.

According to a letter signed and received by Kamanga on December 5, it is acknowledged that his involvement at the company would go against the court's orders. The letter states, "Please note that the court has directed that you stay away from the Zambezi Portland Cement premises."

Among the documents that Kamanga has signed and received was a copy of the application for committal proceedings, which states: "The said persons have disobeyed the injunction of this Court which was confirmed by the Supreme Court in its Judgment dated 21st April 2010 and also as acknowledged by this court in its ruling dated 11th October 2012 in so far as the said Judgment and ruling acknowledge the Plaintiffs as having Management of Zambezi Portland Cement Limited."

The contempt proceedings that were signed and received by Kamanga and Peter Kangombe also included several affidavits. The affidavit signed by ZPC Operations Manager Mwamba Kayula swore that "in complete disregard of the said Judgment and ruling, Mr John Sangwa, Peter Kanaganayagam and Ms Joan Craven have on 28th November 2012 come into the premises of ZPC and tried to take over the management of the ZPC."

For many months, Rajan Mahtani's attempts to take over control of ZPC were resisted and rebuffed by company employees. He was not successful until the 24th of December 2012, when Kamanga and Kangombe led a dramatic armed raid against the company with the help of 200 Zambian Police in full riot gear. They instructed Inspector Chibuye to intimidate and threaten the terrified employees at gunpoint until both Mr. Gomeli Litana and Mr. Mwamba Kayula were forcefully thrown out of the premises, completing the corporate raid of the company.

In any normally functioning state, these criminal activities and the standing violation of a court order like this would result in action from the police to remove the illegal management from the premises and reverse the theft of the company. In Zambia, however, under the Patriotic Front administration, Mahtani appears to be enjoying political protection at a high level as no action has been taken to hold the receivers accountable for violating the injunction.

ZPC has been the subject of a prolonged battle for ownership between the original founders and the financier Mahtani, whom they accuse of corporate theft using dirty tactics such as forgery and deportations. The ZPC scandal, which has become deeply political, is one of a number of controversies involving the multimillionaire Mahtani.


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Source: AllAfrica


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