By Mary Taruvinga
THE Herald senior editor William Chikoto and his deputy news editor Africa Moyo, have maintained their innocence in a $2,5 million lawsuit filed against the two last year by former National Social Security Authority (NSSA) boss Robin Vela.
Moyo and Chikoto have filed an application at the High Court arguing that no attack was directed at Vela, but NSSA as an institution and as such it was impossible for him to sue them.
This was after Vela dragged the two journalists to court following publication of two articles which he claimed contained spiteful and false allegations against him.
He then demanded that the editors and their publisher, Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Limited (Zimpapers) cited as the third respondent, should issue an apology to him and retract the stories.
However, in response, Chikoto and Moyo said published articles on NSSA and not Vela as an individual.
“The allegations raised in the articles are directed at NSSA as an entity, it is operated by the board and the management which carries out day to day operational duties of the authority and that the plaintiff cannot appropriate every function of the corporation to himself and or his board as alleged,” reads part of Moyo and Chikoto’s application.
Vela said he suffered damages in the sum of $2,5 million and his reputation soiled as a Christian, businessman and accountant was badly tarnished following publication of the articles written by Moyo.
He argued that it was false that he did not execute due diligence prior to making certain investments that resulted in loss on some investments.
The editors could not respond to the lawsuit timeously after their court papers got mixed up.
They then took the chance to respond by filing a fresh application and pleaded with the High Court to accept their response.
Meanwhile, High Court judge, Justice Webster Chinamhora postponed the case in which Vela is seeking an order to set aside the findings of the authority’s forensic report which alleged he was at the centre of the abuse of funds at NSSA.
This was after the State had asked for a postponement on grounds that the prosecutor seized with the matter was out of the country on government business.
Chinamhora ordered the State to put its house in order saying the case should be heard without failure.