Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Tobacco farmer slapped with US$228 000 suit

Tobacco farmer slapped with US$228 000 suit

Herald, Thursday, 3 February 2011
Court Reporter

ZIMBABWE Leaf Tobacco Pvt Ltd has taken a Darwendale tobacco farmer
to court in a bid to recover US$228 000 it loaned him under a crop
inputs scheme.

The company is suing Mr Robert Zhuwao owner of Cockington Estates
for failing to settle a debt amounting to US$228 855,92, arising from
a deal entered between the two parties.

Mr Zhuwao has denied having a standing contract with ZLT and
receiving any financial assistance. He has challenged ZLT to prove its
claims. According to court papers filed at the High Court, ZLT claims
it entered into a contract with Mr Zhuwao in April 2009, in which
the tobacco firm would provide financial assistance to enable the
farmer to buy inputs.

Through its lawyers, Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans, ZLT claims that about
US$244 089,89 was advanced to Mr Zhuwao to finance his operations. In its
claim, ZLT stated that in terms of the agreement it would provide crop
inputs financial assistance amounting to US$244 089,89 to Mr Zhuwao.
“In terms of the agreement defendant was obliged to utilise the
crop inputs to produce an estimated 64 000kgs of flue-cured
Virginia tobacco,” read part of the submissions.

Further, it is claimed that Mr Zhuwao was also obliged to market
the entire tobacco crop produced exclusively to ZLT in line with
the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board regulations during the
2008-2009 selling season.

“Plaintiff (ZLT) was thereafter entitled to recover the debt
from defendant (Mr Zhuwao) from the proceeds of the sale of tobacco.
In breach of the contract defendant failed to deliver enough
cured tobacco for marketing and sale to enable plaintiff to recover the

ZLT claimed it only recovered US$15 233,90 from the sale of
tobacco delivered by Mr Zhuwao.
“Despite demand made defendant has failed or neglected to pay
the outstanding balance of the debt in sum of US$228 855,92,” the firm
says. ZLT further claimed that Mr Zhuwao acknowledged entering into
the contract and demands to be paid US$228 855,92 plus interest
calculated at nine percent per annum fromDecember 15, 2009. The company
also wants Mr Zhuwao to pay the costs of the suit. However, Mr Zhuwao
has, in is defence plea, dismissed the claim arguing that he never
entered into any agreement with ZLT.

“The plaintiff cites defendant in his individual capacity yet defendant
never entered into a contract with plaintiff during the period in
question,” he argues through his lawyers Chinganga and Associates. Mr
Zhuwao denied having a standing contract with ZLT and receiving
any financial assistance.
“It is further denied that financial assistance was rendered to defendant
and plaintiff is put to proof thereof,” he further submitted. In the
absence of the alleged contract, he averred, the claims by ZLT are no
more than “naked averments”.

“Further a claim for a colossal amount such as the one being made
by plaintiff should be backed by concrete documentary evidence,” he
said.  Mr Zhuwao said it was pertinent to note that he once had an
individual contract with ZLT for the 2005-2006 tobacco season.

“Defendant surmises that due to administrative incapacity plaintiff
is seeking recompense from the incorrect former client.
Defendant reiterates that he is not liable to plaintiff and thus
plaintiff is not liable to recover the amount claimed,” he submitted. He
urged the court to dismiss the claim with costs for want of merit. The
case has since been referred to trial before Justice Samuel
Kudya tomorrow.

According to a joint pre-trial conference minutes the judge is expected
to determine whether or not ZLT entered into an agreement with Mr Zhuwao.
Also the court will determine whether or not ZLT is indebted.


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