By Fungai Lupande
Metbank is suing the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants for $100 million in defamation damages for publishing an audit report that damages the reputation of the bank, but NSSA wants the High Court to strike out the defamation lawsuit on the grounds that it is vague and embarrassing.
In their application for exception to Metbank’s summons and declaration, NSSA says no cause of action is specified.
Furthermore, Metbank made allegations against the Auditor-General, who is not cited as a defendant .
“The summons and declaration erroneously gives the name of first defendant (NSSA).
“This has remained unattended despite notice to correct the error,” read NSSA’s application.
“The declaration makes allegations against the Auditor-General, but curiously does not cite her as a party to the proceedings.”
NSSA also applied for the court to strike out attachments to Metbank’s declaration because they are not necessary to establish the bank’s cause of action and yet prejudice NSSA in defending the action.
“They make it virtually impossible for NSSA to file a plea that conforms to Rule 116 (1) of the High Court Rules, which requires that a defendant files a concise plea which addresses each and every allegation in the declaration,” read the application.
“NSSA prays for the dismissal of action with costs of suit on a higher scale.”
In its response, Metbank claims that its declaration was not vague and embarrassing
“It discloses a cause of action against the first defendant. The misspelling of the first defendant’s name is not a cause for an exception and does not have the effect of invalidating the summons and declaration,” wrote Metbank.
“The fact that the allegations are made against the Auditor-General, who is not cited as a party to the proceedings, is no basis upon which the first defendant may except to the charges.”
The attachments to Metbank’s declaration were necessary and, argued the bank, did not make it impossible for NSSA to file a plea conforming to the court rules.
The lawsuit comes after the bank was fingered in the audit report with claims that it connived with former Public Service and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira, who is now facing charges of criminal abuse of office, some in connection with alleged deals between Metbank and NSSA.
Metbank argues that the report titled “Forensic Audit for the period 1 January 2015 to February 28 2018,” was published in and outside the country through the print and electronic media from March 4 this year.
“The report was grossly malicious and damaging to the good reputation of the plaintiff,” read the claim. The Herald