Tourism ministry dragged to court over $30m debt

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HARARE – The Tourism ministry has been dragged to the High Court over a $30 million debt owed to a company that provided architectural services in the construction of a United Nations Tourism Organisation project in Victoria Falls.

House of Vengesayi, which trades as Vengesayi Architects, in its court papers, said the ministry failed to pay the money that it owed.

According to the court papers, Vengesayi Architects, which cited Tourism minister Walter Mzembi in his official capacity as a respondent, provided architectural services to the ministry between 2011 and April 2013.

Some of the work that the company carried out includes designs and drawings for a multi-purpose warehouse for $1,5 million.

The company further made designs and drawings for presidential villas, bed and breakfast apartments, carnivore restaurant and night club, a shopping mall and a three-star hotel.

“The plaintiff (Vengesayi Architects) submitted its invoice/fee notes in or about August 2013. The invoices were payable within 30 days from date of submission as per agreement,” the company said.

The company which is represented by Tonderai Bhatasara, however, claimed that the Tourism ministry has failed to pay $30 286 747, 86 that it owes.

The ministry has however, dismissed the claim, which it said is improperly before the court in that the firm failed to comply with peremptory provisions of the law.

“In terms of the State Liabilities Act…, the plaintiff is enjoined to give the defendant 60 days’ notice of the intention to institute legal proceedings,” the ministry said.

It further said that the Act also demands that notice should be given in claims that involve money, adding that the requirements are mandatory.

“The action is flawed for want of compliance with mandatory provisions of the State Liabilities Act (Chapter 8:14). The action is therefore doomed and should fail,” the ministry argued.

The matter is still to be finalised before the High Court.

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