Mphoko loses $50m Daily News lawsuit

HARARE - Former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko has lost his staggering $50 million lawsuit against the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) — the publishers of the Daily News, Daily News on Sunday and the Weekend Post.

Mphoko had filed an appeal at the Supreme Court, challenging a High Court order, which dismissed his exorbitant claim.

ANZ lawyer Alec Muchadehama said Mphoko’s appeal had been dismissed for lack of prosecution.

“Mphoko’s appeal was dismissed for lack of prosecution and this has been communicated to him through a letter from the registrar,” Muchadehama said.

In his notice of appeal, Mphoko had argued the High Court erred in dismissing his claim.

“The honourable court a quo erred at law in determining that the appellant (Mphoko) was in default at the pre-trial conference and therefore dismissing the claim when he was duly represented by his legal practitioner and another representative who was well-versed with the case.

“The honourable court a quo had been informed that the appellant had gone to attend to national duties.

“The appellant will pray that this appeal will be allowed with costs and the judgment of the court a quo set aside, and replaced with an order to the following effect: that the matter be referred to trial,” he argued.

Mphoko was challenging High Court judge Lavender Makoni’s ruling, in which he was slapped with costs, after the court ruled that he used the wrong procedure in seeking to rescind a previously passed ruling.

After Mphoko failed to attend a pre-trial conference, arguing he was attending to national duty, Muchadehama successfully shredded the claim, saying the former VP had exhibited “a bad attitude” towards his case by failing to attend the proceedings in person.

Mphoko instead chose to send an official from his office, Themba Ndlovu, to represent him.

“The pre-trial conference is not a formality. It is an essential part of the proceedings and the judge will have put aside other work and study the pleadings in order to prepare for the conference. It is therefore in the extreme to wait until the time scheduled to advise the court that parties are unable to attend,” Makoni ruled then.

Mphoko’s lawsuit followed a June 5, 2015 article that the former VP took exception to, which was based on an interview 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.

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