Tuesday, 11 February 2020

FIRST MUTUAL : WE DO NOT OWE BITI $15M

FIRST Mutual Holdings Limited (First Mutual) has denied owing MDC vice president Tendai Biti $15 million, which the politician claimed related to his retirement package policy.

Biti told the court that upon retirement, the pension fund was supposed to pay him the contractual $15 million sum assured after the company debased his policy.

But First Mutual has denied tersely ever owing the MDC vice president. First Mutual said it did not reach any such agreement with Biti.

“Defendant (First Mutual) denies that is conducts the business of an insurer. Defendant avers in particular that it did not contract or reach any agreement with plaintiff (Biti) in the manner and respects herein alleged or at all and puts plaintiff to proof hereof. As a consequence of the above averments, defendant contends that the relief sought by plaintiff is not justified at all,” First Mutual said.

The Harare East MP told the court that in 1993, while he was a partner at Honey and Blanckenberg law firm, his pension contributions were with his consent converted by First Mutual into a pension policy.

“The annuitisation phase commenced with a payment of $15 648, 04 and the written projection given by defendant was that upon attaining the retirement age of 60, plaintiff would be paid a capital value of $4 133 593 and an annual pension of $782 066, 47 giving a total assured sum of $15 000 000,” Biti said.

The parliamentarian, however, said, “In breach of the agreement between the parties and taking advantage of the changes in currency that occurred in the 2009, defendant has unilaterally claimed that as at March 2009, the value of plaintiff’s policy was US$196, 76 and US$327, 28 as at December 31, 2015”.

Biti further told the court the unilateral position taken by First Mutual Holdings means that it will, upon his retirement, pay less than the agreed value of the policy.

“In terms of the purchasing power parity theory which constitutes an integral tacit term of the insurance relationship between the parties, plaintiff is entitled to a payment which preserves and reflects the total value by which he was insured,” he said.

He said that despite there being an agreement between the parties, First Mutual Holdings had refused, even in the light of the findings made by a presidential commission of inquiry, to take a position which recognises and upholds the essence of what was agreed.

He said this made it necessary for the court to declare the correct position for the guidance of the parties.

In his papers, Biti sought an order declaring that, “In terms of the insurance contract concluded between parties, upon the attainment by plaintiff of the retirement age of 60, plaintiff is entitled to payment of an amount which as at the date of such payment is equivalent to the value of $15 million such value being reckoned as at the 31st of December 1993”. Daily News

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