The dispute between local firm Malbeck and State owned mobile network service provider Netone Cellular over an outstanding payment of US$400 000 in respect of goods supplied to the telecom giant in December 2018 has a new twist as one of the deal’s funders has taken legal action seeking Malbeck to pay US$139 000 that was a loan extended in the transaction with NetOne’s full knowledge.
The firm, Sugarwell Investments filed High Court case number 7279/2022 wherein they demanded the amount that they extended to Malbeck Investiments in respect of a contract the latter had entered with NetOne.
However, investigations show that the contract was awarded to Malbeck in December 2018 and the order was worth US$797 000 for the supply of regulators that the company imported.
Malbeck outsourced funds from an offshore account belonging to the complainant and duly communicated to NetOne that he was sourcing funds from foreign investors in line with re-engagement policy pronounced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Circumstances are that Malbeck supplied the gadgets but Netone insisted on paying the company their arrears in local currency which was a negation of the initial agreement.
The matter then went to arbitration and Netone was given an arbitrary award in February this year, compelling Malbeck to approach the High Court to have the award set aside citing several irregularities.
The company is represented by its director Taurai Janhi and hearing was sat down for Friday under Case Number 2021/21 and is to be heard by Justice Chitapi.
“I am convinced the determination was in contrast with public policy of the land. The sole claim was to have our payment in USD as the nature of our agreement preceded SI 33 and I had borrowed money from offshore lines of credit to complement part of the payment I had been advanced. This was a foreign obligation our contract with Netone indicated that we import the goods from China. There was a misinterpretation of the law,” reads part of the company’s affidavit.
The company’s prayer is to have the arbitration award granted by Honourable David Whatman in February 2021 to be set aside.
“We pray that the matter be remitted for arbitration de novo under a different arbitrator chosen by both partie frees as per agreement,” Malbeck added.
Malbeck is represented by Tichaona Nyahumwe of Golden Stairs Law Chambers.
This development has triggered industry players to question government’s commitment to attract foreign investors.