By Tendai Kamhungira
Former Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi has filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) commissioner Goodson Nguni, following a press report alleging the ex-politburo member was on the run.
According to the summons filed at the High Court on Wednesday, Mzembi claimed the press statement was made on Monday and Tuesday this week.
“In the statement, the defendant (Nguni) sounded that the Zacc was hunting for the plaintiff (Mzembi). In his words the defendant said that, ‘we have been looking for him since last Friday’ and to the contrary he says ‘he said he will hand himself over’.
“How can they be hunting for a person who is at his house and who always hands himself to the authorities when required to do so?” Mzembi said.
He said the statement has been issued and publicised at a time when he is facing charges of criminal abuse of office at the Harare Magistrates’ Court and is out of custody on $400 bail, with conditions for him to report at Borrowdale Police Station, surrender his passport and not to interfere with State witnesses.
“It is also common cause that the plaintiff has never at one point breached the conditions of his bail and continues to attend and to even attend to other interlocutory applications made on his behalf.
“This, the plaintiff has done in order to ensure that his name is cleansed and different charges he is facing are disposed of in order for him to reengage his various business counterparts for his ‘newly-found’ businesses after taking a sabbatical from active politics,” he said.
Mzembi said, despite Nguni knowing the bail conditions imposed by the court, he went on to claim that he was on the run.
“The defendant as alluded is a commissioner of the Zacc and is employed in that capacity. However, he appears to have had incorporated the office of the spokesperson of Zacc and has since ‘adopted and assumed’ the roles of the latter office.
“The defendant who has become increasingly conflicted and emotional with regards to issues relating to plaintiff’s personal liberty appears to be doing more to put his name into disrepute,” Mzembi said.
He further said the statements by Nguni point to spite and a bid to paint Mzembi as a fugitive from justice, who has the propensity to evade justice if faced with criminal charges.
“Having worked with the plaintiff in the ministry of Tourism and also being an ordinary Zimbabwean, the defendant knows or ought to know that he is causing serious deliberate character assassination which could be incurable and he being an intellectual he is, he must know that a black mark on a good name cannot be replaced.
“The statements were unfounded in their entirety, the commission never looked for him and the day Zacc did so on a Monday, the plaintiff, as he always does informed them that he will come to see them, a promise which he fulfilled,” the court heard.
He accused Nguni of playing personal cards by publicising falsehoods, purely malicious and defamatory, adding that Zacc never made an attempt to look for him at the alleged time.
“Given the circumstances of the plaintiff, a lot of business which would have earned him so much income for survival has been subrogated and compromised,” he said.
Mzembi is now demanding $10 million from Nguni and an interest at the rate of five percent from the date of the judgment to the date of payment of the amount in full.
Nguni has not yet responded to the summons. DailyNews