Daily News editor case deferred

HARARE - Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) group editor Stanley Gama’s defamation case has been deferred to June 9, after the prosecutor applied for ANZ’s lawyer to recuse himself from the case, citing conflict of interest.

ANZ are the publishers of the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday.

Gama and senior writer Fungi Kwaramba are in court following a report filed by controversial businessman Kamal Khalfan over stories linking the Omani citizen to underhand deals in Zimbabwe.

The journalists were being represented by Alec Muchadehama, who had instructed advocate Zvikomborero Chadambuka to handle the case.

The matter was supposed to proceed to trial yesterday, but prosecutor Vernancia Mutake made an application for Chadambuka or any lawyer instructed by Muchadehama’s law firm to recuse himself from the case, saying the human rights lawyer was Khalfan’s lawyer for over 10 years.

“The complainant was once a client of this law firm for 10 years. In confidentiality, they know everything about the complainant and to represent the accused when the complainant was once their client will be a conflict of interest,” Mutake said.

Chadambuka said there was no real conflict of interest, but however, consented to the State’s application.

The two journalists appeared in court with ANZ’s finance manager Zweli Sibanda, who was representing the company.

Muchadehama had given notice on the previous remand date that he was going to challenge the two journalists’ placement on remand and apply for the matter to be referred to the Constitutional Court.

He said the section under which the journalists are being charged was ultra vires the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and the media.

The complainant Khalfan is the owner of Catercraft among other businesses and has also sued the Daily News for a whopping $10 million in a civil suit before the High Court.

Khalfan — who holds a British passport and is the honorary counsel of the Sultan of Oman — accuses Gama, Kwaramba and ANZ of publishing material with a possibility of causing serious harm to his reputation.

The Daily News denies the three counts preferred against the two journalists and is defending the action.

In January, the Daily News carried stories on how businessmen such as Khalfan were using their influence and political connections to introduce dodgy investors to President Robert Mugabe.

According to State papers, the Daily News report had an effect of portraying Khalfan as someone involved in illicit activities of laundering billions of dollars from Zimbabwe and smuggling diamonds and gold through bribing government ministers.

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