BY CHARLES LAITON
THE Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) recently landed itself in trouble after refusing to settle a US$370 000 debt opting to pay off the same in local currency, a move that has prompted an international firm to attach the broadcaster’s property.
ZBC has since filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking an order to stay the sale in execution of its property by Optma Sports Management International t/a OSMI.
According to ZBC’s corporate secretary Patricia Muchengwa the issue started sometime in November 2018, when an order by consent was granted by High Court judge Justice Clement Phiri in favour of OSMI in the sum of US$370 000 together with interest.
In terms of the consent order, Muchengwa said the parties agreed that ZBC would settle a portion of the judgment debt being US$110 000 through peak advertising time, which was to be availed to OSMI on or before December 15, 2018.
“In terms of the order by consent, the applicant (ZBC) would settle a portion of the judgment debt in the sum of US$260 000 over a period of seven months by way of monthly instalments of not less than US$20 000 beginning on or before November 30, 2018 with the first instalment being for US$30 000. The instalments would be payable into an account nominated by the first respondent (OSMI)’s legal practitioners, which would be supplied to the applicant,” she said.
Muchengwa further said pursuant to the consent order and following ZBC’s failure to comply with the terms of the order, a writ of execution was issued against her firms’ movable goods on July 1, 2019 and consequently, the goods were attached and seized by the sheriff on September 5, 2019.
The secretary also said pending the date of removal, the parties engaged each other and agreed that in accordance with the law and in light of their discussions before Justice Phiri, the national broadcaster would continue paying the judgment debt in local currency at a rate of 1:1 and that execution would accordingly be suspended.
“The applicant duly paid off the judgment debt in the total sum of $260 000 (local currency) and has availed peak advertising air time to the first respondent in respect of the remaining portion of the judgment as per order by consent. I attach hereto a reconciliation statement showing payments in the total sum of $172 000 which were made towards the judgment debt,” Muchengwa said.
“Notwithstanding the above payment, the first respondent has proceeded to instruct the sheriff of the High Court to proceed with the removal of the applicant’s property on the basis that the judgment debt is in United States dollars and has not been extinguished. The removal date is January 15, 2020 and thus the matter cannot wait.”