Mphoko makes $50m claim against Daily News

HARARE – Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the publishers of the Daily News, has described as ridiculous Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s demand for a staggering $50 million in compensation for alleged defamation regarding a story that the country’s leading daily newspaper carried two months ago.\r\nVice President Phelekezela Mphoko speaks to The Sunday Mail during the interview last week. - Picture: Believe Nyakudjara\r\n\r\nIn his High Court lawsuit in which he cites the Daily News’ Chief Writer Fungi Kwaramba, Group Editor Stanley Gama, ANZ and its printing division Printco as respondents, following the June 5, 2015 article that was based on an interview with firebrand former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda, Mphoko claimed that his reputation had been soiled.\r\n\r\nIn the story, Sibanda claimed that Mphoko had sold out during the liberation struggle when he had allegedly diverted weapons meant for the late Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu to President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu — a move that Sibanda said could have led to the needless deaths of thousands of people.\r\n\r\nA number of Zapu bigwigs who spoke to the Daily News then — including Dumiso Dabengwa and Thomas Ngwenya (a former deputy to Mphoko) — appeared to buttress the claims. And Mphoko himself had previously admitted diverting the weapons meant for Zapu’s military wing, Zipra, to Zanu’s Zimbabwe National African Liberation Army (Zanla).\r\n\r\n“Defendants (Kwaramba, Gama, ANZ and Printco) will say that the amount of damages being claimed by plaintiff (Mphoko) is ridiculously high and constitutes a petit patio. For this reason plaintiff’s claim must be dismissed with costs,” ANZ’s lawyer Alec Muchadehama says in the defendants’ plea.\r\n\r\nResponding further to Mphoko’s claims that his reputation and status had been diminished by the story, Muchadehama said, “Defendants will say that they do not know what plaintiff’s claim to fame is. They do not know of his immense contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe. Defendants will put the plaintiff to the proof of his claims”.\r\n\r\nMphoko’s lawyers, GN Mlotshwa & Company, argue that their client had allegedly been branded a treasonous villain who for his own benefit, clandestinely supplied apartheid South Africa with war materials that were in turn supplied to Selous Scouts, a special forces regiment of the Rhodesian army.\r\n\r\n“Plaintiff (Mphoko) is well known and respected nationally and internationally as a former diplomat and a vice president of the Republic of Zimbabwe.\r\n\r\n“He is a senior member of Zanu PF who contributed immensely in the country’s liberation struggle. He acts as the president of Zimbabwe from time to time,” reads part of Mphoko’s summons.\r\n\r\nMuchadehama also challenged the meanings ascribed to the words uttered by Sibanda, adding that they were the war veteran’s own opinion. – Daily News