ZANU PF political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere has accused the State media of being an appendage of a faction of the ruling party, which produced a controversial secret dossier dubbed Blue Ocean Strategy, a purported strategy to unseat President Robert Mugabe.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The document, which rattled Zanu PF officials in June this year, allegedly discussed ways Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa could take over power from Mugabe, while decimating the rival G40 faction.
In a $7 million defamation lawsuit filed against Zimpapers and its reporters, Kasukuwere accuses the State-controlled papers of printing lies about him in an effort to give one faction an upper hand in the Zanu PF succession politics.
In his summons, Kasukuwere said The Sunday Mail and The Herald had on various occasions written articles titled Spotlight on housing allocation graft, President grills Kasukuwere and Stands saga turns nasty, which were all defamatory and aimed at ending his political career.
“And in relation to what has become known as the Blue Ocean Strategy, the various defamatory articles against the plaintiff (Kasukuwere) are intended by the defendants (Felix Share, Tendai Mugabe, Praise Bvumbamera, Caesar Zvayi, Mabasa Sasa and Zimbabwe Newspapers) to have the following effect: In relation to succession politics within Zanu PF, to advance the political fortunes of the beneficiaries of the Blue Ocean Strategy, to which the defendants are an appendage,” Kasukuwere said in his declaration.
“As a result of the defamatory articles, plaintiff, who is a Cabinet minister, a Member of Parliament for Mount Darwin South Constituency and a respected political commissar in Zanu PF, has been damaged in his reputation and has suffered damages in the sum of $7 million.”
Kasukuwere said his claim was based on the fact that all the publicised articles he referred to in his lawsuit were false and misleading and that the reporters and Zimpapers “openly intend the defamatory articles to convey the innuendo that the political fortunes of the plaintiff (Kasukuwere) are threatened by imminent demise”.
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“The Sunday Mail article in its defamatory, false and misleading allegations states the following: That the plaintiff (Kasukuwere) was involved in the muscling out of youths from planned residential developments at Chishawasha B and that the plaintiff withdrew the offer of 300 hectares of land in Chishawasha B to the aforesaid youths under unclear circumstances,” he said.
Kasukuwere further said the article claimed he “irregularly allocated land to political bigwigs, in particular to firms linked to Betty Kaseke, Sarah Mahoka, Innocent Hamandishe and Shadreck Mashayamombe”, and that he also “unprocedurally offered land reserved for youths to Prophet Walter Magaya’s company called Planet Africa”, with whom he “has an improper relationship”.
Turning to the Herald article of September 8, 2016, titled President grills Kasukuwere, the minister said the piece was defamatory, false and misleading, with allegations that he was taken to task by President Robert Mugabe for selling land in Chishawasha B, Norton and Harare South earmarked for youths housing to Magaya and political bigwigs.
“That the plaintiff (Kasukuwere) muscled the said youths out of the housing project and parcelled out the aforementioned land to Prophet Magaya and shelf companies belonging to political bigwigs, who include the plaintiff’s cronies (and) that the plaintiff gave the said land to firms linked to Betty Kaseke, Sarah Mahoka, Innocent Hamandishe and Shadreck Mashayamombe,” he said.
Commenting on the September 12, 2016 issue of The Herald, where there was an article headlined, Stands saga turns nasty, Kasukuwere said it was equally damaging in that it claimed he attempted to bribe the Zanu PF district chairpersons.
“The second Herald article, in its defamatory, false and misleading allegations, states the following about the plaintiff: That the plaintiff sold residential stands earmarked for youths to Prophet Magaya and that the above-mentioned disposal of residential stands by the plaintiff to Prophet Magaya turned nasty to the extent that one Innocent Hamandishe was assaulted by youths in Chitungwiza for trying to cover up the scandal,” he said.
“That the plaintiff offered district chairpersons at least 10 stands each to buy their support and so as not to question the plaintiff’s irregular dealings in land through a provincial political commissar identified as Comrade Chilinjali and that the plaintiff’s above-mentioned offer to bribe the district chairperson with stands was turned down by the district chairperson.
“The defendants’ conduct at all material times in relation to the defamatory allegations exhibited a wanton and complete disregard of ethical journalism and shows an unrestrained intention to malign and injure the reputation of the plaintiff.
“The plaintiff’s reputation and standing being a current and serving minister of government has been significantly impaired in the eyes of the public.”
Zimpapers and its reporters are yet to enter an appearance to defend notice.