David Batau

David Batau

Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter—
Former Zanu-PF legislator Mr David Butau has filed a $300 000 lawsuit against The Herald and The Sunday Mail over articles published last year and this year linking him with the plot to oust President Mugabe from power. Mr Butau filed the lawsuit at the High Court yesterday against the Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Limited, reporters — Zvamaida Murwira and Farirai Machivenyika, The Herald editor Caesar Zvayi and Sunday Mail editor Mabasa Sasa, and Mashonaland Central provincial chairman Cde Dickson Mafios.

The lawsuit seeks $300 000 plus interest at the prescribed rate per annum in compensatory and punitive damages for all cause of action. The respondents have 10 days to defend the suit. In a nine-page summons, Mr Butau details the allegations of defamation and negligence against the two newspapers and their proprietor.

The articles complained of were published in The Sunday Mail edition of November 23, 2014 headlined: “How Mujuru fell out with Cde Mugabe” while The Herald article was published on April 15 this year under the title: “Provinces want Kaukonde, Butau expelled”.

The article was authored by Murwira and Machivenyika. The Sunday Mail articles claimed that Mr Butau was actively involved in a scheme to remove the State President from office by unconstitutional means in connivance with the US Government.

Mr Butau accused The Herald of making the allegations in April this year. He said the premises of both articles ran through others published in The Sunday Mail issue of November 30, 2014 “US spy wants to attend Congress” and the September 13, 2015 article “Usual suspects fund new project”.

“The said articles in their entirety are false, wrongful and defamatory per se of the plaintiff . . .” read part of the summons. “They were meant to imply, did imply and were construed by an ordinary reader to imply that the plaintiff is a traitor . . . is a mercenary who would eliminate an elected President merely for his personal financial gain and the plaintiff is treasonous.”

Mr Butau, who is being represented by Zuze Law Chambers, instructing Advocate Lewis Uriri, said as a result of that defamation, he has been damaged in his reputation, dignity and esteem in the eyes of his family, friends and associates and indeed the generality of the Zimbabwe’s population and the international community.

The Sunday Mail and The Herald, Mr Butau said, were widely distributed and circulated in Zimbabwe and also published on the Internet. “Thus, they are widely read by the general public and internationally.”