High Court judge Justice Francis Bere on Thursday awarded $5 000 as damages to Zanu PF politburo returnee Professor Jonathan Moyo in the defamation case against one of his principals Vice-President John Nkomo.
Nkomo defamed Moyo at a public meeting in Tsholotsho on January 12, 2005 where he told the gathering that Moyo wanted to stage a “smart coup” against the presidium.
In his ruling in Bulawayo, Justice Bere held that indeed Nkomo defamed Moyo but was quick to say this was not serious to warrant a higher award as it was “political defamation”.
Moyo’s initial demand amounted to Z$2 billion.
The judge said in politics that kind of defamation was common as politicians fought for political space and power. He said politicians always defamed each other and it was not peculiar to this case.
He said it was not the court’s desire to deal with petty political squabbles as these were better dealt with politically and at constituency level.
Justice Bere said Nkomo defamed Moyo in a bid to “tilt the balance of power in Tsholotsho where Moyo was becoming popular and could have made him uncomfortable”.
He said during the trial Nkomo exhibited hatred for Moyo to the extent that he could not acknowledge
his participation in the liberation struggle although “there were no watertight records to show who passed through which camps in that period”.
Nkomo was present during the ruling but Moyo was not.
Job Sibanda represented Moyo while Francis Chirimuuta represented Nkomo.
Moyo filed a Z$2 billion lawsuit against Nkomo who at that time was Zanu PF national chairman, claiming damages from what he said were Nkomo’s inflammatory statements at a Zanu PF provincial coordinating committee meeting in Matabeleland North.
According to the papers filed by Moyo at the time, Nkomo told the gathering that Moyo had plotted a bloodless coup against President Robert Mugabe and the entire Zanu PF presidium.
Nkomo’s statement stemmed from a meeting allegedly organised and funded by Moyo at Dinyane High School in Tsholotsho popularly referred to as the Tsholotsho Declaration.
At the time, it was alleged that Moyo had planned to subvert a proposed plan to elevate incumbent Vice-President Joice Mujuru to her current position.
This, it was alleged would have been possible through convincing six of the 10 Zanu PF provincial chairpersons to elevate Emmerson Mnangagwa to the vice-presidency during the party’s 2004 congress.