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18/11/2013 00:00:00
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THE High Court has dismissed an application by Alpha Media Holdings to throw out Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa's $1 million defamation claim against the company.

The minister approached the court last year after the weekly Independent newspaper, published by Alpha Media, ran an article claiming Mnangagwa had told them he was ready to rule country.

Part of the article read: “Defence Minister Emmerson Mnan­gagwa has for the first time openly declared his inter­est in taking over from Robert Mugabe as the leader of Zanu PF and the country, in remarks showing the succession battle in the party is intensifying.

“Mnangagwa told the Zimbabwe Indepen­dent last Friday at Heroes Acre dur­ing the bur­ial of Zanu PF Politburo mem­ber Edison Ncube he was ready to govern if given an opportunity.

“This virtually confirmed that he is posi­tioning himself to succeed Mugabe, remarks which could anger senior Zanu PF officials and fuel factionalism and internal power struggles ahead of the next elections. I am ready to rule if selected to do so, Mnangagwa said.”

Mnangagwa, though his lawyers, Dube Manikai and Hwacha, said the article damaged his reputation and good name as it alleged he led a faction fighting and involved in power struggles to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

“The article is false in that the plaintiff never made the remarks attributed to him in the article nor did he speak to the Zim­babwe Independent or anybody else as alleged,” the minister’s declaration read.

However, Alpha Media sought an exception to the claim, arguing that the lawsuit was “an abuse of process in that the minister was seeking to enrich himself to an egregious extent for something that no reasonable person could possibly take umbrage”.

“In most organisations, be they political, sporting or cultural, there is a vying for leadership,” the company argued.

“That is precisely why elections are held. The mere fact that an election is needed is an indication that two or more persons are seeking the vacant post and that therefore there exists plurality of factions.

“There is nothing to suggest that plaintiff is fanning division or creating dissent. (It is) merely that he is one of a number of people, including Vice President (Joice) Mujuru, who are interested in standing for office once the present presidential incumbent steps down or otherwise vacates office.


But Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, without conclusively determining the main case, ruled that the words used in the story were capable of conveying to the reasonable reader the defamatory meaning ascribed to them by Mnangagwa.

The court also disagreed with Alpha Media on its argument that the article does not allege that the plaintiff was a faction leader.

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