HARARE – Zimbabwe is not trying to evade payment of US$125 million granted in a unilateral arbitration to Border Timbers, but has put in a challenge over the registration of that award at the Commercial Court of England and Wales and has been granted leave to appeal, so the case is still open, Attorney-General Mrs Virginia Mabiza has said.
Dismissing allegations by an online media outlet that Zimbabwe had made an unsuccessful attempt to evade payment of US$125 million to Border Timbers Ltd, she described the report in an interview as “misrepresentation of the facts”.
“From what I read it seems to suggest we were being evasive and we were trying to avoid payment and responsibility and that is not accurate.
“However, this application in London was simply meant to challenge the registration of an award in the commercial court of England and Wales,” she said.
Zimbabwe’s case was that Border Timbers Ltd had not fully disclosed that they were still on Zimbabwean land and had not given notice that they were applying for registration.
“This is what Border Timbers had done without notice to us so it was this registration that we sought to have set aside and more so on the basis that this company had not fully disclosed that they were still on our land.”
She said Zimbabwe was still considering whether to appeal the award, as it been granted the right to launch an appeal.
“They did not make that disclosure to indicate they were on our land and the court was not privy to that fact. So we sought to have it set aside, but unfortunately while they agreed with us that they had not made a full disclosure, the court also made a finding that while this was not done it was however not deliberate.
“Having said that the court still went on to grant us leave to appeal, something which we are still considering because we were still within time to appeal with that so there is no victory to record. Saying so is a misrepresentation of the facts,” she said.
An online media outlet had been falsely alleging that Zimbabwe was evading payment, and that the “High Court in London has rejected the Zimbabwean Government’s attempt to evade paying a US$125 million arbitral award for grabbing land belonging to Border Timbers Ltd and Hangani Development Ltd.”
The two companies were awarded US$124 million plus interest and a further US$1 million in moral damages and costs in 2015 arbitration award by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
The false report said that with the registration of that award with the British courts, Zimbabwe would have to pay.
Attorney-General Mabiza pointed out that there were still legal options open to Zimbabwe, based on the fact that Border Timbers had not given all the facts in the previous hearings and that leave to appeal had been granted.