Court orders ‘warring’ timber millers to meet

The High Court in Mzuzu has ordered disgruntled and warring members of the Timber Millers Cooperatives Union, an umbrella union of eight registered timber millers, to have a meeting by June 1st, 2012 and resolve their differences.

The Court also ordered all relevant stakeholders in particular the Export Development Fund Limited and the Registrar of Cooperatives to be present at the meeting and supply relevant information.

The Court further ordered the Union which is the Plaintiff  (petitioner) to attend Court on Monday June 4th, 2012 to advise on further conduct of the matter.

The bone of contention is Sterling Timber International Limited, which the Union is the majority shareholder. Two months ago the Company reportedly got a MK1.9 billion loan from the Reserve Bank of Malawi under the Extended Credit Facility, sources told Nyasa Times.

Mwanza: One of the directors of Sterling Timber

Sterling Timber International Limited, which was registered on 9 February, 2012, has the following directors, the Minister of Agriculture, Professor Peter Mwanza, Hennox Mazengera, Alexander Makwata, Paul Makolosi, Tawonga Mtegha, Willfred Tsaka and Paul Feston Tsoka Banda according to a copy of the registration certificate, Nyasa Times obtained.

Paul Makolosi, Tawonga Mtegha and Willfred Tsaka who performed the bulky of the work on behalf of the Union gave themselves personal shares of 12.5 percent each in the company.

The Union is also not happy that around 300 of its members were allocated 62.5 million ordinary shares while three millers who are in the company’s top hierarchy allocated themselves 37.5 million shares.

Last week the same Court granted an injunction stopping the operations of Sterling Timber International Limited from transacting any business in the 53,000 hectare Viphya plantation in Mzimba district until a judicial review is done.

The Timber Millers Cooperatives Union which consists of the following registered Saw Millers Cooperatives: Chamatete, Lusangazi, Chibwaka, Zikomo, Viphya, Luwawa and Kalungulu, sought the court’s intervention after the company started conducting its business in a covert way contrary to the expectations of the Union.

Tuesday’s order came after Paul Makolosi and three others through Lilongwe based Lawyers Wilkinson and Associates wanted the Court to vacate the injunction  claiming the eight cooperatives do not exist.

In his sworn affidavit Makolosi as Chairperson of the Union said the plaintiffs are not part of Cooperatives that make up the Union.

“I am informed by my Lawyers that there is no Registered Trustees of a Cooperatives Society or Registered Trustees of an Association incorporated under the Trustees Incorporation Act or the Cooperatives Society Limited or unlimited regarded under the Cooperatives Act.

“The Plaintiffs are none of the above nor do they have any other legal strength at law,” he said.

Makolosi also said the Plaintiffs purported claims are mere speculations which have readily made remedies within the law.

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