Shah eviction case exposes rot at Zupco Zupco

Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
Gift Investments, a company owned by prominent businessman Mr Jayesh Shah, has been evicted from the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) premises in Southerton after it emerged that the lease agreement was the product of a bribe.

This emerged in court papers after Mr Shah caused the arrest and prosecution of former Zupco chief executive Mr Bright Matonga and former board chairman Professor Charles Nherera over a $20 000 bribe.

Mr Shah told the High Court, through an affidavit, that he paid $10 000 apiece to Mr Matonga and Prof Nherera as a bribe for the extension of a lease agreement and to facilitate purchase of more buses from Gift Investments.Zupco signed a one-year lease agreement with Gift Investments from January 2002 to January 2003.

Upon expiry of the contract, the court heard that Mr Shah paid a $20 000 bribe to Mr Matonga and Prof Nherera, who corruptly extended the lease agreement verbally from January 2004 to December 2009.

Zupco was now seeking eviction of Mr Shah’s company from No. 9 Sherwood Road, Southerton, on the basis that the five-year lease agreement was tainted and illegal.

Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, instructed by Mr Chenjerai Daitai, represented Zupco, while Advocate Lewis Uriri acted for Mr Shah and Gift Investments.

High Court judge Justice Amy Tsanga ordered Mr Shah and his company off the premises after finding that the agreement was founded on an illegality.

“The lease agreement, as stated, and supported by his (Mr Shah’s) affidavit, was grounded in extortion and his agreement to pay the bribe of $20 000 to have the lease renewed and to have Zupco purchase its buses from him,” she said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that if these were the circumstances upon which the lease was renewed, then there was no lease at all as the law does not recognise contracts that are founded on illegalities.

“I agree with the plaintiff’s counsel that it makes absolutely no sense for the defendant to insist on holding on to a lease that was clearly obtained in violation of the law.”

Adv Magwaliba convinced the court that the corrupt transaction between Mr Shah and the two former Zupco bosses did not in any way legitimise the agreement.Justice Tsanga held that Mr Shah was equally dirty in paying the bribe, before urging the nation to join the fight against corruption.

“The rule of law must be upheld in the fight against corruption in any shape or form regardless of its manifestation such as succumbing to extortion, or paying for favours or kickbacks,” she said.

“Both the person asking for a bribe and the person paying the bribe are just as guilty of illicit conduct.”

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