By Tarisai Machakaire
Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo is suing Zimbabwe Newspapers Group (Zimpapers), which is majority-owned by the government, for $9 million, after newspapers under the stable allegedly maligned the minister through false and defamatory articles, according to a court filing.
In papers before the Harare High Court, Moyo cites the Zimpapers group, Herald editor Caesar Zvayi, his senior reporter Zvamaida Murwira and reporter Lloyd Gumbo; Sunday Mail editor Mabasa Sasa, his investigations reporter Brian Chitemba; Sunday News editor Limukani Ncube and Chronicle acting editor Innocent Madonko as respondents.
The minister’s lawyers said stories published in the October 9 edition of the Mail headlined Probe into Prof Moyo and another titled Minister funded graduation protests — a version of which was also run in the Bulawayo-based Sunday News — was “scandalous and defamatory in the extreme” together with the Herald’s October 10 articles titled Moyo likens self to Robin Hood and another one headlined Prof Moyo admits funds abuse.
He also took issue with the Herald’s October 14 articles titled Zacc raps Moyo, reveals bank details and another one titled Zanu PF didn’t get Zimdef loot and the October 21 article titled Parly summons Prof Moyo.
Moyo claims the articles attacked and permanently harmed his reputation when the newspapers accused him of being corrupt, according to the defamation lawsuit.
“The claims, allegations and assertions made by the defendants are false malicious, scandalous, wrongful and defamatory of Moyo in the extreme in that on their plain and ordinary meaning they simply allege theft, corruption and a penchant of lawlessness by plaintiff.
“They were understood by the readers of the publications to mean that Moyo is corrupt, a thief who diverted fuel coupons meant for Zimbabwe Youth Council for personal profit and engaged in subversive and unlawful conduct demonstrative of disloyalty to Mugabe by plotting student demonstrations.
“ . . . that he is a Cabinet minister who operates outside the law and had been summoned by parliament to answer corruption allegations.”
According to Moyo, the Zimpapers publications evidenced an absolute disregard of ethical journalism and show an unrelenting intention to impair and injure the reputation of Moyo.
The minister’s lawyers said due to the “defamatory articles” their client, who is a Cabinet minister and a revered academic, has been damaged in his reputation and suffered damages in the amount of $9 million. Daily News