AAG accuses Old Mutual of "bullying" small businesses
2012 August 30 00:45:43 | 1420 Views
AFFIRMATIVE Action Group (AAG) has accused Old Mutual of "bullying" small businesses after the giant insurance company was involved in a property wrangle with a pharmaceutical company.
The feud stemmed from efforts by AAG to mediate a stand-off that had arisen between Old Mutual and Santiago Pharmaceutical.
Old Mutual is locked in a legal dispute with tenant Santiago Pharmaceutical after the insurance firm arbitrarily disconnected electricity at a building rented by the pharmaceutical company.
AAG chief executive officer Dr Davison Gomo said his organisation was seized with several cases from small businesses that raised complaints of unfair treatment by Old Mutual.
â€œI cannot speak on their behalf except to say that their behaviour increases our suspicion that all the public gestures they have displayed lately are designed to hide some of the stinking things that large corporates usually do,â€ he said.
â€œWe do not believe that we have any business telling them how to run their business, but there are so many people who have complained about their attitude towards small businesses.â€
Old Mutual group marketing executive Mrs Lillian Mubayiwa said the dispute between them and Santiago was before the courts.
â€œAs a matter of course, all legal disputes are resolved through the use of legal systems that are available in the country. In this case, we are unable to comment on the Santiago case as it is sub judice,â€ she said.
Mrs Mubayiwa denied that they were treating small businesses unfairly.
â€œThis market is highly competitive and it is of paramount importance for us to retain our customers,â€ she said.
â€œThe only way we can do so is by treating our clients fairly and ensuring that we maintain ethical business standards and governance structures that meet the high standards we and our stakeholders expect.â€
But Dr Gomo said judging from Old Mutualâ€™s â€œarrogantâ€ conduct, they were now suspicious of their sincerity regarding the donations that they had been making to Government of late.
â€œGiven that they have been making donations to Government, we remain worried that this may well be a strategy to find space for a soft landing in case of serious challenges,â€ he said.
A representative of Santiago Pharmacies, Mr Valentine Munyawiri, castigated Old Mutual for being arbitrary.
â€œI think it is a popular myth in Zimbabwe that Old Mutual is too big and too powerful to fight, but I felt I had to go against them in order to stand up for what is right,â€ he said.
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