THE trial of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) MP Tendai Biti (Harare East) on a charge of defaming Augur Investments owner Ken Sharpe has been deferred to March 31 after the opposition official filed an appeal at the Supreme Court.
Biti's appeal came after his application for exception to the charge was dismissed by High Court judge Justice Jacob Manzunzu in 2021.
He was slapped with a US$1 million lawsuit after he allegedly labelled Sharpe as one of most corrupt people looting Zimbabwe’s resources.
Trial was due to commence before High court judge, Justice Tawanda Chitapi yesterday but failed to kick off after Biti filed an appeal against High court’s ruling at the Supreme Court last Friday.
Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, representing Augur Investments accused Biti of buying time asking the court to order him to pay costs for seeking a postponement as the matter had been pending since 2021.
“The trajectory this case has taken shows that the defendant does not want this trial to commence,” said Magwaliba.
But Biti’s lawyer Lovemore Madhuku denied the claim saying his client came to court knowing that the case would be postponed since it was appealed against.
Chitapi then postponed the case to March 31 to determine the issue of costs while he awaits Supreme court proceedings.
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Augur Investments is seeking US$500 000 damages from Biti while its chief operations officer Tatiana Aleshina is claiming US$100 000. Sharpe himself wants US$400 000.
Sharpe also cited MDC Alliance party for pursuing a malicious agenda based on Biti’s tweets.
“On or about December 13, 2020 and again on December 23, 2020, the first defendant further published two other false, malicious and defamatory statements of and concerning the 1st and 3rd plaintiff in particular where he stated the following: Glyn Cohen is amongst a coterie of elite looters that are bleeding Zimbabwe or have bled Zimbabwe aided and abated by Zanu PF patronage system,” Sharpe said.
Other names cited in Biti’s tweet include Hamish and Simon Rudland, Ian McMillan, Lawrence Sher, Van Hoogstraten, Sharpe and Sam Levy estate.
“The desperate actions of Kenneth Sharpe and Augur Investments will not erase the truth that they looted thousands of hectares of land from the City of Harare under the airport agreement land was transferred to Augur but it never performed. Government took over the project.”
Sharpe and his company also sued the MDC Alliance for publishing Biti’s “malicious and defamatory” statements.
“On or about December 4, 2020, the MDC Alliance associated and made common purpose with the first defendant by publishing certain comments of and concerning first and third plaintiff.”
Sharpe claimed that in the December 12 tweet, Biti made baseless claims that could not go unchallenged.