Zanu PF wars head to courts

HARARE - Zanu PF’s escalating factional and succession wars, that have lately seen supporters of First Lady Grace Mugabe and those of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa savaging each other in public fora, could soon play out in the courts.

In the latest chapter of this seemingly unstoppable bloodletting, Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena — said to be a key ally of Mnangagwa — is demanding a whopping $150 000 in defamation damages from prominent Grace supporter Phillip Chiyangwa, accusing the maverick businessman of leading a social media assault on him.

On his part, Chiyangwa says he won’t lose any sleep over the defamation lawsuit that stems from a damning multimedia recording that shows prominent Zanu PF member and alleged G40 kingpin Acie Lumumba accusing Wadyajena of being homosexual.

The controversial video, made last week at Grace’s Manicaland rally, was allegedly disseminated by the swaggering Native Investments Africa Group (NIAG) founder, Chiyangwa, according to Wadyajena.

In his letter of demand to Chiyangwa, Wadyajena claims the flashy businessman defamed him through the homosexual charge that he allegedly circulated on social media, a move that he also says damaged his reputation irreparably.

Being accused of being gay is a massive blow in the rabidly homophobic post-congress Zanu PF, whose leader President Robert Mugabe is on record as being violently anti-gay.

In the contested video, which also features Dangamvura-Chikanga Zanu PF legislator and businessman Esau Mupfumi, and which has been uploaded on YouTube, Lumumba is seen with another party youth, Mabuso Chinguno, seemingly attacking Wadyajena.

Chinguno further suggests in the video that Grace must become Zimbabwe’s next president, claiming as well that Wadyajena was infatuated with the First Lady.

“Wadyajena anopengaka, asi anopengaka Wadyajena? Ingochanika. Pane akamboona Wadyajena? Ndongochani manje Wadyajena (Wadyajena is crazy, he is gay),” Lumumba is captured saying.

But Chiyangwa, through his lawyer Itai Ndudzo of Mutamangira and Associates, is dismissing Wadyajena’s defamation claims against him.

“In any event, we put your client to the strictest proof that the reference made in the context of the alleged video has any nexus with him.

“It is striking that your client has rushed to allege that he is the subject of discussion in the alleged video.

“Your client’s conduct in claiming to be the subject of the conversation firmly indicates that your client is either engaged in some shenanigans that he fears may be the subject of unpleasant discussions or that your client is desperate for a moment of fame and publicity by having his name mentioned in the same context as ours,” he says.

Chiyangwa also says dismissively that Wadyajena “does not have any standing, stature, status, eminence or value worthy defaming”.

“With due respect, our client is of the view that yours is a nonentity not worthy of any discussion as alleged.

“He has not distinguished himself in any sphere of life worthy of the mention or attention of a distinguished celebrity and personality in the class of our client.

“Your client’s demand of $150 000 from ours is with respect, facetious, preposterous and gelastic. While our client is a renowned philanthropist, his generosity does not extend to giving handouts on the basis of groundless, fatuous and ludicrous claims.

“Our client is of the view that yours must strive for a living through diligent and conscientious means and not disconsolate and extortive claims,” Chiyangwa trays scathingly, further accusing Wadyajena of being “desperate.”

“Your letter admits that the allegations were made by politicians at a political gathering in a political context.

“The law is now very clear that it is an accepted convention that politicians can exchange political banter, name calling, and other whimsical verbal exchanges.

“Those who chose to indulge in politics are expected to have the maturity and sophistication to absorb such exchanges,” Chiyangwa adds.

Chiyangwa also accuses Wadyajena of failing to “have the capacity to stomach simple political banter” and advises him to “endeavour to eke out his livelihood far away from the political scene”.

“We hope that your client is not the same person who has been loquacious against other political players both in Parliament and other political rallies,” Chiyangwa adds, referring to the June Parliament fracas when Wadyajena moved to have Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere arrested on charges of showing contempt for the august House.

Wadyajena, who is the chairperson of the parliamentary committee on Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, had Kasukuwere on the ropes when he moved a motion that could have resulted in the arrest or fining of the combative Local Government minister.

This came after Kasukuwere — who has boasted of being one of Zimbabwe’s “biggest political thugs” — was summoned to appear before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Indigenisation to clarify how he had handled the controversial

$50 million Marange Community Share Ownership Scheme when he was the responsible minister.

But instead of answering questions then, Kasukuwere went for the jugular and accused the youthful Wadyajena of seeking to settle political scores using his position as chairperson of the committee.

A grinning Wadyajena, seemingly relishing the occasion, returned the fire with interest, revealing to a hushed Parliament that diamond miners had never made any pledges to the community ownership trust, as had been alleged by Kasukuwere.

“What is good for the goose should also be good for the gander,” Chiyangwa says, adding that he is entitled to fully enjoy his constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of expression, and that “no amount of threat by yours can muzzle our client’s fundamental right”.

“In the premise, our client categorically denies the allegation by yours and cautions that any legal action as threatened shall be strongly contested and shall be considered an open invitation to a claim of punitive costs against yours,” Chiyangwa concludes.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.