Zimbabwe Minister sues paper for Z$ 450,000 

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afrol News, 3 April - The Zimbabwean Minister of state for Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo has filed a Z$ 450,000 (US$ 8,000) lawsuit against The Daily News for publishing alleged defamatory articles in the paper about him, government newspaper The Herald has reported.

In the papers filed on 29 March 2001 at the High court by Moyo's lawyer, The Daily News Editor in Chief Geoffrey Nyarota, Assistant Editor Bill Saidi, and the Associated Newspapers Group (ANZ), publishers of The Daily News are cited as defendants.

The suit is based on letters and an editorial comment published by the newspaper between February and March 2001. Moyo is claiming Z$ 100,000 approximately, (US$ 1,800) over a letter published by the paper on 10 February 2001 entitled "Moyo, Hunzvi, Chinotimba Prime suspects". (Chenjerai Hunzvi and Joseph Chinotimba are war veterans' leaders). The letter stated that, "Why is it that Professor Jonathan Moyo have not been arrested in connection with the bombing of The Daily News printing press? Moyo himself declared the closure of The Daily News on Television."

Moyo's lawyers Hussein and Ranchhod and Company said the words were wrongful and defamatory of their client in that they were intended and were understood by readers of the newspaper to mean that the Minister was immoral and a criminal. 

The second claim of Z$ 150,000 is against an editorial carried by the paper on February 13, 2001 entitled "Moyo's assault on press freedom mind-boggling". It read, "The story in the Zimbabwe Independent, confirmed by both the organization that is suing the Professor and the legal firm that is acting on its behalf, said that Moyo was being sued by the Ford Foundation in connection with alleged misappropriation of funds running into millions of dollars." 

It goes on to say, "The papers sources said that Moyo is being accused, together with other respondents who are not Zimbabweans, of siphoning money from Ford Foundation for personal use, and that he allegedly used part of the money to buy a house in Johannesburg posh suburb of Saxonwold."

Moyo's lawyers argue that the words were wrongful, defamatory and untrue of their client in that they were intended and were understood by readers of the newspaper to mean that he was being sued for theft and dishonesty and that he personally enriched himself with ill-gotten gains.

The third claim of Z$ 200,000 (US$ 2,400) is against an article published in The Daily News on March 28, 2001 entitled "There's no good reason to vote for thieves". It read, "Nobody has explained why Jonathan Moyo, being sued in a Kenyan court for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from The Ford Foundation, is still operating garrulously as minister of state."

Moyo's lawyers argue that the title of the words and the said quoted words, in the context of the article, were wrongful and defamatory of Moyo, in that they were intended and were understood by readers of the newspaper that the plaintiff is facing a more serious legal suit than he actually is and that he has a case to answer of theft and dishonesty.

Moyo is claiming Z$ 250,000 (US$ 4,500) from Nyarota and ANZ and Z$ 200,000 from Nyarota, Saidi and ANZ in respect of the third article.

Source: Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)

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