Cottco bosses in vicious fight

HARARE - An ugly fight has erupted among top executives at agro-industrial firm Cottco Holdings over a contentious sell of lint to a local merchant that overseas buyers had allegedly paid for in advance.

The tussle involves managing director Pious Manamike on the one side, and head of operations Maxmore Njani and head of corporate services Benedict Mugura-Gumeni on the other.

Lint is in high demand globally, and the deal that has sparked the ruckus was worth $2 million.

Although the law requires that Cottco sells 30 percent of its lint to local merchants, the company has been struggling to meet both domestic and foreign markets to fulfil this obligation.

In the meantime, Njanji and Mugura-Gumeni — who have accused Manamike of fraud — have since reported the matter to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), which has confirmed receipt of the complaint.

They also claim that they were sidelined in the drafting and signing of the deal that involved the local merchant.

The head of investigations at Zacc, Goodson Nguni, confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that they had received the complaint.

“We are quite far with our investigations,” he said, without elaborating.  

Apart from reporting the complex matter to Zacc, Njanji and Mugura-Gumeni have also filed a criminal complaint with the police, while also drawing into the case the company’s head of finance Brighton Chibamu and sales and marketing officer Lameck Machumi.

However, an audit commissioned to ascertain if the alleged fraud had indeed occurred, appears not to have established any wrongdoing on the part of Manamike or material prejudice to Cottco.

The auditors also found that the local company which got the lint had a contract with Cottco, where it was the biggest local buyer of the product.

But Njanji and Mugura-Gumeni said in the documents that they lodged with Zacc that Cottco’s bankers had declined to authorise the release of the lint to the local merchant on the grounds that they needed to first fulfil their contractual obligations with offshore merchants who had provided pre-finance.

They also claimed that the bankers had noted that the local merchant did not have the financial capacity to pay for the lint or process it.

A bonafide “Release Order” for merchants issued by Cottco's bankers was also allegedly doctored on the instructions of Manamike.

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