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Former VP Joice Mujuru In Huge Debt

Former Vice President (VP) Joice Mujuru and her company, Ruzirun Investments, have been ordered to pay US$226 000 debt owed to a local couple, Sabrina and Tony Sarpo, since 2015.

The Sarpo couple owns Peppy Motors, according to NewsDay.

The Supreme Court ordered Mujuru to pay the debt following a successful appeal against a High Court judgment which confirmed a provisional order that she had satisfied the judgment debt by making payments in RTGS dollars.

What happened in Court:

The Sarpo couple’s lawyers, Tapson Dzvetero, argued that parties entered into a consent order denominated in United States dollars, which at the time was legal tender.

They argued that payment was supposed to be at the prevailing interbank rate.

The Sarpos told the Supreme Court that the High Court erred at law and grossly misdirected itself in finding that Mujuru had paid the debt in RTGS at the rate of 1:1 after the introduction of Statutory Instrument (SI) 33 of 2019.

Judges of appeal Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, Felistus Chatukuta and Hlekani Mwayera ruled:

The court a quo, therefore, erred when it held that the order by consent did not create any new liabilities, but merely pronounced on the existing liabilities of the respondents.

The respondents were, therefore, required to discharge their indebtedness by converting the United States dollar judgment to RTGS dollars at the prevailing interbank rate.

Payment made by the respondents at the one-to-one rate, therefore, did not discharge their indebtedness to the appellants. It merely constituted part payment, with the balance remaining due and payable. We, therefore, find that this appeal has merit and ought to succeed.

The court ordered that the appeal be allowed with costs.

The High Court judgment was set aside and Mujuru and her company were ordered to pay the costs of the lawsuit.

Some context:

The Sarpos couple sold agricultural machinery to Mujuru on July 25, 2014.

Mujuru’s company then defaulted in making payments, prompting the court action.

At the pre-trial conference, the parties agreed to settle the matter and entered into a deed of settlement on May 20, 2019.

An order by consent denominated in United States dollars was then issued on the same date as the deed of settlement for the payment of US$226 000.

Mujuru then made the first payment on July 5, 2019, through a bank transfer of RTGS$76 000 but the Sarpos wrote a letter arguing that the judgment debt had to be paid at the interbank rate.

Mujuru objected arguing that the obligation to pay the amount had arisen before the promulgation of SI 33 of 2019.

She also argued that payment was, therefore, supposed to be at the equivalence rate of 1:1.

However, the Sarpos ordered the Sheriff to execute the judgment resulting in Mujuru’s combine harvester being attached on September 18, 2019.

On October 16, 2019, Mujuru and her company made a payment of $140 000 directly into the Sheriff’s account and the Sarpos again wrote to her stating that there was still an outstanding balance of RTGS$7 423 413.30.

Mujuru argued that the payment of $470 282.50 covered the judgment debt in full.

On February 11, 2020, the Sheriff attached Mujuru’s three tractors prompting Mujuru to approach the High Court seeking to stop the execution of the judgment in HC 2954/18.

Former VP Mujuru then sought a final order declaring that she had paid the US$226 000 debt in full and the release of the property attached by the Sheriff.

The application was granted, prompting the Sarpos to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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