HER series of controversies run from resisting to testify in a court of law in a kidnapping case to gross unethical practice in the form of a conflict of interest, getting entangled in a corrupt airline deal and allegedly forging a resignation document from a companies’ registry to cover up her tracks, leading to her arrest by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).
Transmedia Corporation’s new board approved by President Emmerson Mnangagwa has integrity gaps around its chairperson Phillipa Magnify Phillips-Sadza (pictured) and Jonathan Gandari, fatally compromising its credibility from the start.
This came after Mnangagwa appointed his niece Helliate Rushwaya as new Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation board chair last week.
Mnangagwa’s government is stuffed with relatives, loyalists and cronies appointed along patronage, regional and ethnic lines.
Phillips-Sadza has been involved in several scandals.
The Gandari issue is different. He is a ministry of Information senior official and his appointment on the Transmedia board presents another conflict of interest. He is currently acting Information ministry permanent secretary.
Last week, he announced the new Transmedia board, which included himself. His entanglement compromises the new board’s integrity and credibility.
Transmedia is a local television and radio signal multiplexer.
Mnangagwa approved its new board for appointment two days ago.
Phillips-Sadza, a well-connected local lawyer who runs Phillips Law which is based in Newlands, Harare, was appointed board chair despite her integrity and credibility gaps.
A lawyer by profession and a managing partner at Phillips Law, Phillips-Sadza, whose boutique law firm specialises in immigration, citizenship, compliance and corporate law, is well-connected with officials in government.
She is reportedly close to Virginia Mabhiza, the Attorney-General who was until last year’s general election Justice ministry permanent secretary for years.
Due to their links, Phillips-Sadza has been given high-level assignments, including being a member of a presidentially-appointed tribunal to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against fired High Court Justice Thompson Mabhikwa.
The tribunal was chaired by retired Justice November Mtshiya and included Chaka Mashoko and Phillips-Sadza. Initially, Mnangagwa had appointed retired Justice Maphios Cheda to chair the panel, but he recused himself saying he was related to the lady, Oratile Nare, who was then an assistant to a fellow Bulawayo judge, who had leaked Mabhikwa’s nudes and vulgar WhatsApp messages from his phone to various platforms.
Nare, then assistant to Justice Maxwell Takuva, posted Mabhikwa’s nudes and dirty messages to all his contacts and judges’ group before they immediately went viral, forcing the Judicial Service Commission to launch a probe and subsequently Mnangagwa to appoint a tribunal.
Mabhikwa was found guilty and eventually fired in 2022.
However, Phillips-Sadza has serious integrity gaps after she was entangled in several unsavoury cases, one of them a corrupt airline project that was run by the late former president Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law Simba Chikore.
The other is a conflict of interest issue involving telecoms giant Econet. Phillips-Sadza also became an elusive witness in a kidnapping case between Chikore and his then workmate Bertha Zakeyo in 2017.
The case went to court and Phillips-Sadza was supposed to be a witness, but she had a battle with prosecutors as she resisted testifying, ironically citing a conflict of interest as she claimed to be a lawyer for both Chikore and Zakeyo, her colleagues at the corrupt and ill-fated Zim Airways project.
In 2021, a Harare-based innovator and entrepreneur, Ignatius Munengwa reported Phillips-Sadza to the Law Society of Zimbabwe for failing to declare her conflict of interest when she represented his company M-Comm Africa (Pvt) Ltd against Econet in High Court cases HC8299/17 and HC7734/19.
Munengwa was accusing Econet of intellectual property theft after it allegedly stole an idea he had presented to it for a partnership business venture. He said Phillips-Sadza acted in bad faith as his lawyer because she had an undeclared conflict of interest.
Further, Munengwa said Phillips-Sadza was running an Econet Shop business with her husband Gwinyai Sadza offering various services, while she represented him in a case against Econet at the same time.
Phillips-Sadza did not disclose her conflict of interest, which is seriously unprofessional and unethical, especially for a lawyer of her standing, he says. Her husband, Sadza, also worked with her at her law firm, Phillips Law, where he was head of IT.
After Munengwa filed the case against Phillips-Sadza, the Law Society of Zimbabwe initially found her innocent, ignoring overwhelming evidence of a clear conflict.
Munengwa then reported the matter to Zacc and she was later arrested before being released on bail. The issue is now with the National Prosecuting Authority pending prosecution, although there has been inordinate delay, raising suspicion the case is being stalled.
As a result, the Law Society of Zimbabwe was subsequently forced to reverse its decision and advised Munengwa in June 2022 that they would review the matter. However, the Law Society has not practically done anything meaningful since then.
Lawyers always say justice delayed is justice denied, yet in this case the Law Society has failed to deal with the matter professionally, promptly and fairly.
The Law Society says it is still investigating the matter.
In 2017, Phillips-Sadza was also deeply involved in the corrupt Zimbabwe Airways project, which involved formation of the new airline to replace Air Zimbabwe through the back door and buying of planes — used Boeing 777s and Embraers — for US$70 million.
The saga sucked in national flag carrier AirZim and some ministers at the time. Former Transport minister Jorum Gumbo, a close Mnangagwa political ally, was entangled in the aircraft purchase scandal which involved AirZim and Zim Airways.
The saga has also sucked in ex-Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa. Gumbo and Chinamasa’s claim was that the four Boeing 777-200 planes were bought from Malaysia Airlines through their sole agent PricewaterhouseCoopers Kuala Lumpur, but they were being leased to Zim Airways by the Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company (ZALC) in which Phillips-Sadza was a board member. They claimed Zim Airways and ZALC were government-owned.
But Gumbo maintained the two were private companies owned by Zimbabwean diasporans.
The initial arrangement was that two of the Rolls Royce-powered planes would cost US$16.5 million each, while the other two would be bought for US$18.5 million apiece, bringing the total to US$70 million.
However, later they decided to buy two Boeing 777s for US$18.5 million and US$16.5 million, a total of US$35 million.
It was also later resolved to buy two Embraers for US$6 million using Treasury Bills. This brought the total of the revised deal to US$41 million.
- Phillipa Magnify Phillips-Sadza is a lawyer by profession and a managing partner at Phillips Law, a local boutique law firm specialising in immigration; citizenship, compliance and corporate law;
- Phillis-Sadza obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree (Private Law and French) and then a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She proceeded to obtain a Master of Laws (LLM) from Temple University in Pennsylvania, United States. Phillips-Sadza sits on various boards and serves as trustee of several other organisations; and
- Phillips-Sadza is involved with the World Bank Doing Business in Zimbabwe and is the current country consultant for the review of the Companies Act [Chapter 24:03].