HARARE – Information Communication Technology (ICT) minister, Supa Mandiwanzira, has filed two lawsuits totalling a staggering $9 million against Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) — publishers of the Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday and the Weekend Post.
The lawsuits relate to two articles which appeared in ANZ’s flagship daily, the Daily News, last year.
Curiously, both of Mandiwanzira’s legal actions only came in the past fortnight, eight months after the Daily News published the news articles.
An ANZ spokesperson said that the company looked forward to meeting the minister in court in both cases, adding that it was his right to approach the bench.
In his latest lawsuit, in which Mandiwanzira cites MDC legislator for Mabvuku-Tafara James Maridadi as the first respondent, and ANZ and its Group Editor Stanley Gama as second and third respondents, the ZiFM owner — who is a former journalist who has enjoyed a meteoric rise in both business and politics — is demanding $2 million in damages.
This follows the publication of an opinion piece by Maridadi in the Daily News in July 2016 titled “A chip off the old block”, which referred to widely-circulating allegations at the time that Mandiwanzira had been bought a $200 000 car by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).
In his court application, Mandiwanzira said the impression created by the opinion piece was that he abused his position as a minister for his own personal gain.
He also claimed that the opinion had damaged his reputation in terms of his suitability to be a parliamentarian and a Cabinet minister, without saying what the claimed suitability entailed.
“The plaintiff has been subjected to great embarrassment by the article and it was the duty of 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants (Maridadi, ANZ and Gama) to verify the truth of the information before causing the publication.
“As a result of the defamatory statements … the plaintiff has been damaged in his reputation and suffered damages in the amount of $2 million,” Mandiwanzira said.
There was no indication that Mandiwanzira had taken similar action against all the media houses that had reported on the controversy.
In the other lawsuit, Mandiwanzira also included ANZ as a respondent in a case in which he is seeking a whopping $7 million in damages.
The lawsuit is based on an article which was published in the Daily News in May last year, in which former NetOne chief executive officer, Reward Kangai, complained about the minister and was reported to have appealed to President Robert Mugabe for help.
“The article was not only untrue in many aspects, but highly defamatory and was so published with the express motive of casting aspersions on the character of the plaintiff, lowering him in the estimation of ordinary reasonable persons with the newspaper’s readership and exposed him to public ridicule and contempt, both in his professional capacity as a government minister and a renowned broadcaster and a politician,” Mandiwanzira’s lawyers claimed. – Daily News