The US$1 million worth defamation lawsuit filed by FreeZim Congress party leader, Joseph Busha against NewZimbabwe.com reporter Alois Vinga now awaits a trial date after the parties in the matter failed to reach an amicable agreement during the Pre-Trial-Conference stage.
According to a court record under the High Court’s case number 6605/19 three issues under the matter have been placed before the courts.
“Whether or not the article complained about is defamatory. Whether or not the defenses of qualified privilege, truth and fair comment are available to the defendant and the exact quantum of damages payable to the plaintiff if any,” says the record.
The records show that Vinga, through his legal representative Lindiwe Chamutinya of Alex F & Associates have stood by the article arguing it is not defamatory as it was written basing on two notarised court orders originating from the courts in South Africa.
Chamutinya also contends that Busha was given an opportunity to reply before publication of the article.
In the proceedings, Vinga refused to disclose the person who had told him about Busha’s family indicating that as a journalist, he is required by ethics to protect his source.
However, Busha maintains that the notarised court records which the reporter based his story on are non-existent as he argues that despite his wife having approached the High Court in Johannesburg in pursuit of a protection order, the matter was settled out of court.
The plaintiff has also produced a notarized statement signed by his South Africa based legal representatives to substantiate his argument.
The suit arose from an article by Vinga carried on NewZimbabwe.com headlined “Mnangagwa challenger in wife abuse storm”.
In his Plaintiff Declaration, Busha said, Vinga wrote and published through the online newspaper an article wherein he claimed a Johannesburg court had issued a protection order against the businessman.
“The said words are in their entirety false, wrongful and defamatory per se of and concerning Plaintiff, were meant to imply, did imply and were construed and understood by the ordinary reader to imply that Plaintiff is a convicted criminal and a domestic offender.”
Busha said as a result of the alleged published falsehoods he was damaged in his reputation, dignity and esteem in the eyes of his family, friends, business partners and the global community.