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Chombo applies to muzzle press


Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo has applied to the High Court seeking to bar the media from covering his messy divorce case.

Chombo made the application Monday before Justice Antonia Guvava through Advocate Thabani Mpofu.

He said the media was peddling falsehoods against him and his rights to privacy were being violated.

Mpofu further submitted Chombo did not want anyone else other than the interested parties to attend the court proceedings.

The minister claimed he had suffered pre-trial publicity and the media was adversely portraying him as extravagantly wealthy, when in actual fact he was not.

However, prominent Harare lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, representing Chombo’s wife, Marian, opposed the application, saying the minister was a public figure and, therefore, subject to public scrutiny.

Mtetwa said the matter was already in the public domain and muzzling the press would prejudice the public who had a right to know how the case was handled to its logical conclusion.

She urged the court to dismiss Chombo’s application and challenged him to clear his name in a public court.

“The plaintiff (Chombo) complained of pre-trial publicity. The case can be heard in public to clear the falsehoods. He cannot say because he is a public figure, he should be treated differently. With all due respect, we submit his constituency is supposed to know how he conducts himself, not only in public, but in the private arena as well,” Mtetwa said.

Justice Guvava postponed ruling indefinitely.

Chombo is embroiled in an acrimonious divorce and property-sharing wrangle with Marian, from whom he has been separated for the past four years.

The estranged couple agreed to divorce in 2007, but failed to reach a settlement on sharing properties believed to be spread countrywide.

Pre-trial conferences held to try and resolve the matter without going to trial failed to bear fruit.

Chombo has said the two have not lived together as husband and wife for two years and there is no more love or affection between them.

The minister has pledged to look after their two children, born in 1986 and 1989.

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