The complainant, Benson Samudzimu — who has since been demoted to group business development director — is claiming damages for pain and suffering, loss of dignity and medical expenses he allegedly suffered as a result of “victimisation.”
This has sparked a legal duel, which has also exposed a possible abuse of shareholder funds at the country’s largest producer of milk and milk products following allegations that the Dairibord boss authorised “unlawful donations” to a political party during the 2008 harmonised elections, a gesture that did not benefit the other political formations.
The matter came to light when Samudzimu was denied a loan to defray medical expenses he incurred seeking treatment for ulcers that allegedly developed when the conflict between him and his CEO started boiling over. It could not immediately be established how much money was signed out and to which political party.
Asked for comment, Dairibord Holdings Limited chairman, Timothy Chiganze, said he was not aware of the labour dispute and the alleged abuse of shareholder funds as they related to the day-to-day operations of the company.
The Financial Gazette is reliably informed that Mandiwanza was served with summons on July 30 and subsequently filed an appearance to defend at the High Court last Monday.
Mandiwanza, however, denies receiving the summons or indicating an intention to defend the case in court saying the matter would be dealt with through “internal proceedings” instead.
A disciplinary hearing to look into several charges levelled against Samudzimu based on a report by the chief internal auditor did not take place on July 27 as scheduled after complainant’s lawyers, Atherstone and Cook, wrote to the company requesting a postponement of the hearing citing a number of reasons.
The chief internal auditor had been asked to investigate the former managing director after he was moved from Dairibord Zimbabwe to the parent company.
In a letter addressed to the group corporate services director, who had been appointed to chair the hearing, Atherstone and Cook, argued that the disciplinary process was “unprocedural and unlawful.”
Dairibord had dropped the charges and cancelled the disciplinary hearing after the matter was heard in the Labour Court on July 6, but revived them when the complainant took the matter to court.
In his declaration papers filed at the High Court, Samudzimu claims that the conflict between him and Mandiwanza started in February when the Dairibord chief telephoned him accusing him of having fathered a child with the group finance director, Mercy Ndoro, and taken pictures of the baby when it was born.
On the 26th, the same month, Samudzimu says he was summoned to a meeting where he was officially told he had been demoted to group business development director and was being transferred to the holding company, allegedly without any explanation. It was at this point that Mandiwanza allegedly ordered the chief internal auditor to investigate Samudzimu.
On the basis of the findings, which The Financial Gazette could not establish by the time of going to press, both the chief internal auditor and Mandiwanza asked Samudzimu to resign.When the complainant refused, an order was later given that he should hand over his official vehicle.