Chitungwiza loses $119 000 court case

Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
Chitungwiza Municipality has been ordered to pay $119 000 to Scotia Steel Private Limited for a jet machine it ordered six years ago. The local authority advertised for a tender to be supplied with a jet machine, which Scotia Steel won in 2011.

The firm imported the machine in line with the tender, but council failed to pay for it. Scotia lost a lot of money in the process. The company instructed its lawyers Ngarava Moyo and Chikono to issue summons for payment of the $119 000.

Council opposed the case, arguing that there was no valid agreement since the contract was oral. High Court judge Justice Mary Dube ruled that the contract indeed existed and the local authority breached it by not paying.

“The plaintiff did its part of the bargain by placing an order for the machine and paying for it. It is prepared to deliver the machine once payment has been done. The plaintiff’s evidence, which was not rebutted, shows that it participated in the tender and its tender was accepted.

A valid and binding contract for the supply of a jet machine was concluded upon council’s acceptance of the defendant’s tender. By failing to live up to the terms of the contract it had entered into, the defendant breached the contract,” she said.

Justice Dube ordered Chitungwiza council to pay $119 113 to Scotia plus interest. The court also slapped the local authority with an order for costs. Justice Dube blasted Chitungwiza for failing to defend its case in the matter.

“The defendant’s case was poorly prosecuted. I did not get the impression that the defendant has thoroughly prepared its case or that it was seriously pursuing its case.

“Out of sheer clumsiness, the defendant failed to call any official from council to give evidence regarding how the tender was conducted, its outcome and the aftermath of the tender process. It was the responsibility of the defendant to call evidence to disprove the existence of a contract and it failed to do so. This is a classic example of a case that ought to have been resolved at pre-trial conference and should not have been referred to trial,” she said.

Justice Dube took a swipe at the conduct of the only defence witness and former town clerk, Mr Godfrey Tanyanyiwa.

“The former town clerk did not impress the court as an honest and reliable witness. He chose what to say and what not to say and this was done to save his own skin. He reportedly left the defendant’s employ amid allegations of malpractice. He was on a mission to try and clear his own name with his former employer,” she said.

“The former town clerk knew how the tender was processed, but he sought to deliberately mislead the court.”

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