Gono Claims Charging In Foreign Currency Was Illegal To Avoid $1.3m Debt

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FORMER Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono is under fire for failing to pay $1,3 million for an undisclosed number of vehicles he bought on credit from a local dealer, Oasis Motors, six years ago.

Oasis Motors filed summons for provisional sentence at the High Court on the strength of an acknowledgement of debt signed by Dr Gono on January 31, 2009 when he bought the vehicles.

Yesterday, Justice Lavender Makoni had to refer the matter to the opposed cases roll, after learning that Dr Gono had filed his opposing papers a few days before the court day.

In the summons filed by Oasis Motors’ lawyers Chitewe Law Practice on January 27 this year, Oasis claimed $1 319 000 with interest.

Dr Gono received vehicles for his staff and operations at his companies, including Lunar Chickens on credit.

The vehicles were valued at $1 749 000, but Dr Gono partly paid the debt, leaving a balance of $1 319 000.

According to the agreement, Dr Gono was supposed to pay the debt in full by January 31 2010, but failed.

Despite demand, Dr Gono did not settle the debt, resulting in Oasis Motors instituting legal proceedings at the High Court.

In his opposing affidavit dated February 17, 2015, Dr Gono argued that at the time when the agreement of sale was signed, charging in foreign currency was illegal hence the acknowledgement of debt relied upon by Oasis Motors should be dismissed as an illegality.

“I am advised that the acknowledgement of debt relied upon by the Plaintiff is not valid at law in that it is illegal and unenforceable because at the time of its signature, that is January 31 2009, neither of the parties had authority to transact in United States dollars, it having been illegal to do so without the authorisation of the Exchange Control authority of Zimbabwe.

“If the transaction is found to be tainted with illegality, it will be necessary to consider the relevant facts surrounding its conclusion as well as the respective degrees of turpitude to the parties in order to determine the extent of its illegality and its enforceability.

“I am further advised that it is the settled position at law that where the court is faced with an agreement that is tainted by illegality, the Honourable Court may allow the loss to lie where it falls…” reads part of Dr Gono’s opposing affidavit.

Dr Gono also argues that the acknowledgement of debt relied upon is dated January 31 2009, hence the suit must fail because it was filed outside the three-year period permitted in terms of the Prescription Act.

“Further, I am advised that plaintiff’s claim, being founded upon the said acknowledgement of debt attached to the summons, is prescribed in terms of Section 15 (d) of the Prescription Act in that the sum said to be due has not been claimed for more than three years since the date it became due, that is, the 31st of January 2010,” he said.

Thompson Stevenson and Associates are representing Dr Gono in the civil matter.

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