BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
FORMER NetOne chief executive Reward Kangai has lost a $2 million defamation lawsuit against his former employer at the High Court.
Kangai was jointly and severally suing his former employer, current and former Zimbabwe Newspapers journalists and administrators namely, Ceasar Zvayi, Lloyd Gumbo, Lincolin Towindo, Alex Marufu and The Herald, claiming damages arising from an article published on March 11, 2016.
But High Court judge Justice David Mangota found that Kangai was too emotional and brought up issues not relevant to the matter before the court.
“On September 5, 2019, the respondent, who is a former chief executive officer of the applicant, sued the latter and five other defendants. He claimed certain specified sums of money against them. He alleged that the applicant, a legal entity which is registered according to the laws of Zimbabwe and its co-defendants defamed him. The applicant entered to appear to defend. It filed its plea on November 27, 2019. It filed this application on October 23, 2020. It pleaded in the same, that the claim of the respondent is frivolous and vexatious as against it,” Mangota ruled.
“It premised its application for dismissal of the claim on the allegation that it did not publish the articles which constitute the respondent’s cause of action for the suit against it.”
NetOne also argued that it did not authorise the publication of the articles in question and that there was no legal principle upon which it is being sued for defamation damages which arose from articles which were published by a third party.
“The respondent appears to have approached the application with some emotion and a sense of exasperation. The emotion which accompanied his response to the application threw him off balance, so to speak. He dedicated one half of his notice of opposition to matters which were irrelevant to the application. The applicant’s alleged non-payment to him of his terminal benefits, his coming to court with alleged dirty hands as well as the alleged violation of his constitutional rights were all irrelevant to what had been placed before me,” Mangota ruled.
NetOne acting board chairperson Susan Muchaneta Mutangadura challenged Kangai’s lawsuit, claiming that he had failed to pursue his claim for some time, hence the plea for its dismissal.
Mutangadura also urged the court to dismiss the claim, saying NetOne could not be dragged into a matter involving a publishing house which was not answerable to the parastatal.
“There is no case upon which the court is being called upon to adjudicate. The respondent (Kangai)’s claim is for damages for defamation of character arising from a newspaper article. The applicant (NetOne) did not publish the article. It is a separate legal entity with no ties or legal relationship with Zimbabwe Newspapers Limited, the company which owns The Herald which published the article in question,” she said.
Kangai’s lawsuit came after the company sued him for a similar figure, claiming it suffered losses due to his mismanagement of funds during his time in office.
But Kangai denied the allegations, saying NetOne was avoiding paying him his early release package following his dismissal at the company.
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