Daily News defends Mphoko's $50m suit

HARARE - Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has been accused of “blowing hot and cold” and changing goal posts in his staggering $50 million defamation claim against Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) — the publishers of the Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday and the Weekend Post.

Making submissions before High Court judge Lavender Makoni yesterday, ANZ lawyer Alec Muchadehama also argued that Mphoko had followed the wrong procedure in his legal action which the court should not condone, in addition to the VP allegedly changing his statements at regular turns to suit his case.

Respondents in this case are ANZ Group Editor Stanley Gama, Chief Writer Fungi Kwaramba, ANZ and Printco.

Mphoko’s lawsuit followed a June 5, 2015 Daily News article which the VP took exception to, and which was based on an interview that the newspaper had with firebrand former war veteran’s leader Jabulani Sibanda.

In the story, Sibanda claimed that Mphoko had sold out during the liberation struggle when he allegedly diverted weapons meant for the late Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu to Zanu — a move that Sibanda further claimed could have led to the needless deaths of thousands of people.

High Court judge Joseph Musakwa previously dismissed Mphoko’s lawsuit following an application by Muchadehama to have the case thrown out, after the VP failed to attend the pre-trial conference in person — choosing instead to send an official from his office, Themba Ndlovu, to represent him.

But Mphoko claimed that his absence was necessitated by the fact that he was attending to State business, adding that in any event his non-presence was justified because he had sent his representative.

His legal representative argued that in terms of the rules of the court, it was acceptable for one to send a representative during a pre-trial conference, adding that both a natural and a corporate person could send a representative with full instructions to handle any case before the court.

However, Muchadehama asserted that Ndlovu was “a stranger” to the proceedings and could thus not have represented Mphoko.

“He (Ndlovu) had nothing to do with the court process,” Muchadehama said, adding that Mphoko’s claim was personal and had nothing to do with the government.

He also said only a company, or a parent in the event of a matter involving a minor, could have a representative standing for it.

“Ndlovu could not have known or justify applicant’s claim of $50 million. He was not able to tell how the applicant (Mphoko) had been defamed. So, he was of no use,” Muchadehama said.

He further stated that Mphoko had followed the wrong procedure when he sought to overturn the previous court ruling that dismissed the claim through a court application for correction of a judgment which was entered in error. Instead, Mphoko should have applied for rescission of judgment, as the judgment was not entered in error as was now being alleged.

Muchadehama also said Mphoko had exhibited “a bad attitude” towards his case by failing to attend in person during the pre-trial conference, in addition to making an exorbitant claim in his lawsuit.

“Everything about the procedure has been wrong and he seeks the court’s indulgence. He is claiming $50 million. That kind of claim would appear to prove he is not serious with his claim.

“The amount is so high as opposed to what can be taken to be serious by this court. Given precedence, nobody has been granted such an amount. His claim is almost like a dream,” Muchadehama said.

Makoni reserved his ruling in the matter.

In earlier papers responding to Mphoko’s claims that his reputation and status had been diminished by the story, Muchadehama said, “Defendants (Kwaramba, Gama, ANZ and Printco) 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.”

“Defendants will say that the amount of damages being claimed by plaintiff (Mphoko) is ridiculously high and constitutes a petit patio,” Muchadehama said in the defendant’s plea. “For this reason, plaintiff’s claim must be dismissed with costs.”

Comments (1)

Maybe he thinks Presidents and celebrities are the same.If He is worth $50 million how much is Mandela's networth. To prove let him Print T-shirts written Mboko and see how many people will buy them.kikikikiikikkikkikkikkii$50 million bond notes maybe but not the green buck.

Gudogurupetamuswe - 23 September 2016

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