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Local online publication sued over defamatory stories

Local News
Marconati is arguing that the publication is being used to silence him on the dispute he is having with former business partners.

Marondera businessman Francisco Marconati has threatened to sue local online publication Bulawayo24.com for publishing two defamatory articles alleging that he was dropping Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s name into his dispute with former business partners.

In a letter of demand dated February, Marconati’s lawyers from Joel Pincus, Konson and Wolhuter Legal Practitioners , said the news articles published by the news site defamed their client.

The two articles allegedly were published under the headlines, "Self- styled Itailan mafia boss exposed for abusing Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga's name to grab mines and companies," and another article reads, " Itailan investor Francesco Marconati flouts mining regulations..poses threat to national security."

The lawyers said the statements that their client is a self -styled Itailan mafia boss and wreaking havoc across Zimbabwe were malicious. They also said the statements that Marconati is using unorthodox means to orchestrate the deportation of former business partner Nicola Trolese to seize control of Philadelphia Italian Craft Beer House and Restaurant were false.

"The malicious statements by the publication that our client does not exercise regulatory compliance, worker safety and ethical standards in his mining businesses; that our client uses intimidation tactics to manipulate and control those around him; and also resorts to deceitful practices to undermine his business partners and advance his personal interests …. are false and malicious and bend to assassinate his character socially and as a business person," the lawyers wrote.

"The articles have caused and are likely to continue to cause our client serious harm and damage, to his name, good esteem, reputation, social standing and his business interests, this may include financial harm. Our client is monitoring the impact of these the articles.”

The lawyers added that the articles were without seeking their client’s comment, moreso without verifying the facts with him.

“It is our view that your reporting was untruthful, inaccurate and unfair. Your conduct was meant to push a certain narrative which is adverse to our client," the lawyers said.

Marconati’s lawyers demanded withdrawal of the damaging articles and an apology from the news site by Tuesday.

" Should you fail to comply with our demand, we have instructions to institute legal proceedings against you wherein we shall also seek damages against you," the lawyers wrote.

Marconati is arguing that the publication is being used to silence him on the dispute he is having with former business partners.

The news site was last year taken to task by a local property development WestProperties after it allegedly published falsehoods. The article were later pulled after WestProperties threatened to take legal action.

Marconati, who is a shareholder at Eagle Italian Leather and Shoes Company is locked in a legal dispute with former director Li Song who he accused of externalising millions of United States dollars through her offshore company Jacaranda Consulting Services that is based was in Mauritius.

The dispute has sucked in employees at a local bank and officials at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe who are accused of facilitating the externalization of large sums of money.

The businessman has also taken the fight to Mauritius courts where he seeks to recover his funds that were allegedly siphoned out by his ex-wife, Li.

Eagle Italian Shoes and Leather Company supplies leather products to Zimbabwe’s security sector.

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