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Wheels of justice turning slowly on lawyer Phillips



WHEELS of justice are turning slowly on prominent lawyer and Transmedia Corporation board chairperson Phillipa Phillips who was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti -Corruption Commission (Zacc) in 2022 for alleged forgery of company documents in a bid to scuttle a case of failure to declare interest in a matter she represented Harare businessman Ignatius Munengwa’s company M-Comm Africa (Pvt) Ltd against Econet Wireless’ alleged unethical business practises.


 In High Court cases HC8299/17 and HC7734/19 Phillips represented Munengwa af[1]ter he sued Econet for allegedly stealing his idea of a panic button system he had discussed with the telecommunications company with a view to entering into a partnership.

Phillips owns the legal entity Phillips Law firm and between July 2019 and February 2020, she represented Munengwa at the High Court against Econet when she was a director of Esoft (Pvt) Ltd that operated as an agent of the telecommunications company but did not disclose the conflict of interest.

When Munengwa reported her conduct to the Law Society of Zimbabwe, she allegedly forged papers to make them appear as though she had resigned from Esoft before she represented him in the case against Econet.

The irregularity of the backdated resignation was unearthed by papers at the Deeds Office. Munengwa reported the case to the Zacc and she was arrested in 2021 under the matter that was recorded as CRB 240/21, HCR 31/04/21 and PP Ref 283/21.

 However, from that time to date, she has not been prosecuted by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Munengwa said although he made enquiries at the NPA, nothing has been done to prosecute Phillips.

Contacted for comment, Phillips told The NewsHawks that it is not true that wheels of justice are turning slowly on her. She also denied that the NPA was not putting her to trial because of her strong connections in government. 

 “There is no evidence against me in the case brought by Zacc. For the record, I was never put on bail in the case because I had surrendered myself to the police and so was not a flight risk. I went to court on any other day they prescribed until the matter was removed from the roll for lack of evidence. I was removed from remand on that basis.

“Trial cannot take place when there is no evidence. They made their investigations and did not find evidence.

Munengwa said: “After waiting for the matter to go to trial, NPA initially said there was no evidence even though she had been arrested and released in quite tight bail conditions. We wrote to the NPA and reported this conduct but we heard her court file had gone missing for five months. There does not seem to be a resolve to deal with this matter.”

 As part of his evidence presented to the NPA and also contained in a letter to Law Society of Zimbabwe Executive Secretary Edward Mapara, Munegwa explained how Phillips had erred by purporting to have resigned from Esoft Pvt Ltd before he represented him.

 “On the contrary, annual returns submitted by Phillips Law in its capacity as secretary clear[1]ly state that Ms Phillips was a director as at the date of the AGM, being 27 June 2019. While I would agree that it is common cause for documents at the Deeds and Companies Office to take time to be processed, this would not be a valid reason for late submission of documents to the said office,” Munengwa argued.

“The annual returns indicating that Ms Phillips was still a director were only submitted to the Registrar of Companies on 19 August 2019 and processed on 8 January 2020. The company directorship is further confirmed by the CR14, which lists Ms Phillips and her husband Mr Sadza as the directors, and Phillips Law as secretary. At the time of submission of the annual returns, the documentation states that Ms Phillips was a director of Esoft and as such, should have declared her interest to me.”

 A lawyer by profession and a managing partner at Phillips Law, Phillips, whose boutique law firm specialises in immigration, citizenship, compliance and corporate law, is well-connected with officials in government.

 She 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 judge Thompson Mabhikwa.

The tribunal was chaired by retired Justice November Mtshiya and included Chaka Mashoko and Phillips. 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 his nudes and vulgar WhatsApp messages from Mabhikwa’s 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 appointing a tribunal.

 Mabhikwa was found guilty and eventually fired in 2022.

 However, Phillips 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.

Phillips 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 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 col[1]leagues at the corrupt and ill-fated Zim Airways project.

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