Muchena challenges $32k Parliament suit

HARARE – Former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Olivia Muchena has demanded the High Court to dismiss an application filed by Parliament in which the National Assembly is seeking to recover $32 000 advanced to the former parliamentarian as a motor vehicle loan.

Muchena is part of over 15 other legislators who were dragged to the High Court for failure to repay various amounts of money.

In her latest request, Muchena is demanding the application by Parliament to be dismissed on the basis that the legislature has not shown any interest to have the matter finalised.

“Over four months have lapsed since the applicant (Muchena) herein (defendant in HC1406/17) filed a plea. The action should be dismissed as clearly this action is frivolous and vexatious and there is absolutely no serious intention by the respondent (Parliament) to bring this matter to finality,” the court heard.

Muchena noted that summons in the main matter were filed against her on February 22, 2017, before she entered an appearance to defend five days later.

She later filed her own plea in June, but over four months have lapsed before Parliament could further pursue the matter.

“I submit that the action in case No. HC 1406/17 has been neglected by the respondent (Parliament) herein as it has no prospects of success. In the premises, it is submitted that the respondent wasted time by filing a speculative and premature action as there was no agreement between the parties.

“The respondent’s application under case No.HC 1406/17 should therefore be dismissed with costs on the higher legal practitioner-client scale,” Muchena argued.

Arguing in the main matter, Muchena said there was no verbal agreement between the parties.

“There was no agreement to that effect and the plaintiff is put to the strictest proof thereof. The claim for the sum of $32 653 or any sum at all is disputed. No such express or implied terms of the verbal agreement were agreed to by the defendant,” Muchena said.

In terms of the court summons against Muchena and other Members of Parliament, the loans extended to them were used to purchase Ford Ranger double cab vehicles on the understanding that the money would be recovered from their seating allowances.

The parliamentarians were, however, expelled from the National Assembly before settling their debts.

As a result, some of them were dragged to the courts, among them Kudakwashe Bhasikiti who owed $33 200 and Gorden Moyo ($28 318).

Parliament also claimed $28 590 from Settlement Chikwinya, $26 535 from Solomon Madzore and $25 370 from Paul Madzore.

It further demanded $21 858 from Evelyn Muzungu-Masaiti, $22 384 from Moses Manyengavana, $21 719 from Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, $22 313 from Lucia Matibenga and $22 642 from Roselyn Nkomo.

According to Parliament, the agreement between the parties was verbal.

Government had extended the loans to all interested MPs for purposes of purchasing motor vehicles for their personal and business use.

In the event of the defendants being expelled from Parliament, the creditor would be entitled to claim the balance of the loan plus other expenses to recover the debt, the court heard.