Daily News takes action against Mushangwe

HARARE - The Daily News has filed a complaint with the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) against lawyer Nickiel Mushangwe for unethical conduct in connection with the way he has handled the newspaper’s disagreement with preacher Emmanuel Makandiwa.

Mushangwe, claiming that he was representing Makandiwa, recently approached the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), urging the media regulator to punish the Daily News for refusing to publish a second retraction on account of a street poster which the paper mistakenly put up late last year.

The poster contained the name Makandiwa, without specifically referring to the United Family International Church’s founder.

But in a development which shocked the legal fraternity, Mushangwe, in a full-page advert in the state media, proceeded to state categorically that he did not have instructions from Makandiwa to have the Daily News punished by the ZMC.

The paper’s group editor Stanley Gama, in a letter to LSZ on behalf of the organisation, said he was startled by Mushangwe’s conduct.

“We believe that it is a serious act of misconduct for a legal practitioner to mislead an authority that he is acting on behalf of a party in the proceedings, when he is fully aware that he has not taken instructions from his client to embark on that course of action,” said Gama in the letter filed this morning.

Mushangwe’s unclear misadventures against the Daily News, said Gama, had exposed the paper to avoidable stress and legal expenditures.

He implored the law body to investigate the anomaly.

“Mr N Mushangwe’s action has seriously prejudiced us as we are incurring legal costs responding to a complaint (to ZMC) which had nothing to do with the subject of the complaint, Mr Emmanuel Makandiwa.

“But for Mr Mushangwe’s personal errands, the Daily News would not have been put to unnecessary costs,” he said.

On December 2 last year, the Daily News mistakenly carried the headline "Anglican saga sucks in Makandiwa" instead of "Anglican saga sucks in banks".

The newspaper immediately and magnanimously apologised to Emmanuel Makandiwa for the error in its printed edition and wrote a personal letter to the UFIC founder – even though no story involving Makandiwa in this regard was published in the paper, in addition to the fact that no reference to Makandiwa had been made on the street poster itself.

Despite the fact that the Daily News carried the retraction and wrote a personal letter of apology to Makandiwa, Mushangwe – claiming to represent the UFIC founder – filed a staggering $2 million lawsuit against the Daily News, demanding another and more prominent apology.

Mushangwe’s advert in state media, which is a crucial element of then Daily News complaint, partly reads: “We are utterly surprised by the conduct of the Daily News seeking to link our client to the letter that originated from us.

 “It was our initiative.  It is a professional decision which we still hold to be sound. If there is any blame to be apportioned to anybody for that letter, it is us Mushangwe and Company Legal practitioners who should shoulder the blame... Our client had no input in what we did. We did not contact him when we did the letter. It was our own initiative".

Mushangwe was reacting to the Daily News's protestations and fears that in effect Makandiwa had approached the ZMC because he wanted to see the Daily News shut down again.

The paper was violently and unjustly shut down by President Robert Mugabe's government in September 2003. It only came back in late March 2011.

It is the staggering admission by Mushangwe that he took the Daily News to ZMC without Makandiwa's authority that has baffled legal experts and the Daily News, as the very same "complaint" now sits before the ZMC, allegedly at Makandiwa's behest.

In the meantime, the Daily News has also responded to the ZMC with regards to the matter. - Staff Writer

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