Acting President Phelekezela Mphoko’s $50 million claim against Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the publishers of the Daily News, was yesterday dismissed with costs after he failed to turn up for a pre-trial conference at the High Court before Justice Joseph Musakwa.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Mphoko, who filed the lawsuit claiming his reputation had been soiled over an article published by the paper in July last year, early this month applied for a default judgment against ANZ claiming the latter had wilfully failed to attend a pre-hearing conference when in fact ANZ had not been properly served with set-down papers.
However, the default judgment was later rescinded and ANZ’s defence reinstated.
“The VP did not attend court for the second time and we applied for the claim to be dismissed with costs and the court granted us our application. We are now going to work out our costs and will send the bill to him for payment,” ANZ lawyer Alec Muchadehama said after the chamber hearing.
In his claim, Mphoko had demanded compensation for alleged defamation after ANZ published a story, on June 5 last year, based on an interview with former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda.
In the said story, Sibanda claimed Mphoko had sold out during the liberation struggle by allegedly diverting weapons meant for the late Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu to President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu, a move Sibanda said could have led to the needless deaths of thousands of people.
In its defence, ANZ and its co-defendants said the Vice-President’s claim was “ridiculous”.