*COURTS ALREADY SETTLED ZAMBEZI PORTLAND CEMENT SHAREHOLDING CASE*
In the past few days, there have been running battles at Zambezi Portland Cement over who should be in control of the cement manufacturing company.
In 2007 Finsbury Investments Limited and the Ventriglia family entered into a shareholders agreement to set up the cement plant. However, the relationship soured as the 2 parties failed to work together a few years later after setting up the cement plant. Political pressure heightened over the affairs of the cement plant when Rupiah Banda (RB) ascended to the Presidency. During RB’s presidency, the Italians used political pressure to keep Mahtani and Finsbury out of the cement plant.
When the late Michael Sata ascended to the presidency, the Ventriglias were deported from Zambia on security grounds by then Minister of Home Affairs, Edgar Lungu. During this period, the cement plant was being run by Finsbury as the majority shareholder. However, following the death of Michael Sata, Edgar Lungu ascended to the presidency and the Ventriglias were allowed back in the country. When the Ventriglias returned, they went to the cement plant and forcefully took over control and running of the plant without any court order, despite them not being shareholders in the company. With the help of politicians, they succeeded in keeping Finsbury out of the cement plant despite not having any legal backing.
In 2017, the High Court passed the first Judgment in the case in which the court recognized the Ventriglias as shareholders. However, in 2019 the Court of Appeal reversed the High Court Judgment and held that Finsbury was the majority shareholder of Zambezi Portland Cement. The Ventriglias then appealed to the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal Judgment, and in 2020 the Supreme Court dismissed the Appeal (the Ventriglias lost the case).
The Ventriglias have now gone back to the Court of Appeal asking that the Court should revisit one of its Rulings of 2019 and give them 42% shares in Zambezi Portland Cement since they have nothing, according to the Ruling. It is their company Ital Terazzo which is recognized as 42% shareholder, but the company is in Receivership and not under their control. They also want Finsbury to pay them K580,000,000 and not K580,000 which was paid to them through the court. However, the Ventriglias are out of time in asking for this, and the court is yet to decide if they should be allowed or not to go back into the court of appeal and argue again on these 2 issues.
As things stand and as we know will not change, Finsbury is the majority shareholder of Zambezi Portland Cement because there is a final judgment on the case. The issues now being raised again in the court of appeal do not change the position of the majority shareholder. Therefore, the continued resistance by the Ventriglias not to allow Finsbury to participate in the running of the cement plant has no legal basis, and is being politicized by Gomeli Litana who is a front for the Ventriglias in order to draw sympathy. The Ventriglias are not the victims here, they are the villains over the running battles taking place at the cement plant. It can only be hoped that relevant authorities will allow sanity to be restored over the running of the cement plant by following the rule of law.