ZANU PF-linked businessman Agrippa Masiyakurima — poularly known as Bopela — has accused Information Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira of forcing him to go into a business partnership with his brother so that they could get more government tenders.
by XOLISANI NCUBE
In High Court papers filed by Bopela while defending a $300 000 defamation suit filed by the minister early this year, the businessman stated that Mandiwanzira wanted him to join Richard Mandiwanzira to set up a NetOne base station in Nyanga, which happens to be the minister’s constituency.
“Plaintiff (Mandiwanzira) coerced me into partnering with his brother, Richard Mandiwanzira, for the construction of an access road for NetOne base station Troutbeck Nyanga,” read the papers.
“I quoted $170 000 and plaintiff did it for a much higher price using another company.”
Through his lawyer, Brian Hungwe instructed by Dube, Manikai and Hwacha Legal Practitioners, Mandiwanzira had sued Masiyakurima on allegations that he wrote on his Facebook page that the minister had “sold his wife to another man for the love of money”.
But in response, the business man through his lawyers, Kadzere, Hungwe and Mandevere Legal Practitioners, said Mandiwanzira had no basis to claim defamation damages against him over social media posts, which he had no control over.
He went on to allege that the minister had approached him demanding a 40% stake in his company, Bopela Group, when he was appointed ICT minister in 2014.
“Plaintiff (Mandiwanzira) approached defendant soon after his appointment as minister of ICT proposing to take a 40% stake in the defendant’s company Bopela Group for free on condition that he would facilitate lots of contracts from Telecel, since he was in the process of taking over Telecel with the support of First Lady Grace Mugabe,” Masiyakurima stated in his answering papers.
Bopela, who has in past bankrolled President Robert Mugabe’s birthday bash, alleged that Mandiwanzira used his ministerial position and threats of losing business opportunities with the government to force the businessman to buy a crane for the minister’s company XCMG.
Mandiwanzira dragged Masiyakurima to the High Court demanding $300 000 over alleged damages caused by his Facebook posts saying that the minister was corrupt and that the Nyanga North legislator was an accomplice in the plunder of the Marange diamonds.
“The defendant denies ever alleging that plaintiff was complicit in the plunder of diamonds and puts him to strict proof thereof,” Masiyakurima said.