'Offensive' Sunday Times article upsets Moyo

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Information, Jonathan Moyo, is suing Munn Marketing for Z$100-million (about R109 000) for allegedly distributing in Zimbabwe the Sunday Times of South Africa—a newspaper he is also suing for carrying an allegedly defamatory article.

Moyo in a summons served last month said the article insinuated that he does not care about the people of Matabeleland and their history.

In his court papers lodged with the High Court, Moyo stated that Munn Marketing should be held liable for circulating or distributing the edition of the Sunday Times that carried the article “which contained within it offensive and defamatory statements”.

However, Publications Distributors, and not Munn Marketing, distribute the Sunday Times in Zimbabwe.

The Sunday Times story at the centre of the storm was a front-page splash under the headline “Mafikizolo Moyo feels wrath of dictator scorned” and was carried in the December 5 issue. The author of the story quoted an interview he said he had with Moyo in 2000.

He wrote: “For the record, I asked the professor in 2000 how a person from Matabeleland who would have been affected in one way or another by the massacres was now the most violent apologist for, if not post soldier, of Mugabe.

“He said that what happened in his home province had been nothing but a necessary government intervention against treasonous elements from the South.”

Moyo, through his lawyers Muzangaza, Mandaza and Tomana, said the words attributed to him were “false” as he never had discussions with the writer of the article concerning the issue of the Matabeleland uprising, where more than 20 000 civilians were massacred by Mugabe’s North Korean-trained 5 Brigade during an insurgency in the early 1980s.

“The words in the said article were understood by members of the public to mean that the plaintiff did not care about the people of Matabeleland and their history,” Moyo said in his court papers.

“The portion of the article so complained of gave the impression that plaintiff, a minister of state, did not appreciate the pain brought to his countrymen and kin during the uprisings in Matabeleland.”

Moyo also charged that the article implied that he is a “bootlicker” and an employee of the president, “when it is common knowledge that plaintiff is a member of the government and serves the government of Zimbabwe”.

“The aforesaid statements were wrongful and defamatory of the plaintiff and intended to damage him in his reputation and fair name,” said Moyo.

At the time of going to press, Munn Marketing was communicating to Moyo’s lawyers that it was not involved in the distribution of the Sunday Times.—Zimbabwe Independent

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