THE High Court yesterday reserved judgment in a $5 million defamation lawsuit filed by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga against former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo.
Chiwenga had sued Moyo for claiming that “someone” authored the former Zimbabwe Defence Forces boss’ doctoral thesis at KwaZulu-Natal University.
The matter was heard before two High Court judges, Justices Lavender Makoni and Jacob Manzunzu, who reserved judgment.
Through his lawyer, Chris Mhike, Moyo filed an exception application, saying Chiwenga’s declaration had not disclosed any cause of action in that the words complained of were not defamatory in any way and could, under no circumstances, be damaging to his good name and reputation.
“The inconsistence in the Press statement and the deduction, thereof, by the plaintiff (Chiwenga) makes it difficult for the respondent (Moyo) to respond. There is a mismatch in the deduction of the words that were used in the Press statement. The nature of the injury or damage caused is not clearly presented,” Mhike said.
The plaintiff then, him being the Commander of the Defence Forces, was a strong and powerful man and was used to giving orders that would be obeyed and I think this is why he felt offended when he was questioned about his PhD because he was used to just giving orders and not being asked questions.”
Mhike further said what his client said in a statement in July last year had more than one meaning and lacked the averments necessary to sustain a claim of defamation.
But, Chiwenga’s lawyer, Advocate Brian Hungwe said the damages being claimed by his client were clear and emanating from Moyo’s untrue published defamatory statement.
Mhike added that Moyo accused Chiwenga of academic impersonation since there was no good reason for him to make a comment on his PhD.
“There was no good reason for him (Moyo) to kick an open door. Why was it necessary to mention about the (then) General’s PhD when he knew it was an obvious thing that the plaintiff had such qualification? It is clear that from an ordinary person’s perspective, one would conclude that the defendant knew of someone who wrote the PhD on the plaintiff’s behalf and this is why we insist he intended to defame the plaintiff,” Hungwe said.
“The words of the statement might and/or are capable of conveying the meaning suggested in the summons and declaration and carry the sting and additional innuendo ascribed to in the declaration. There is nothing vague or embarrassing about them and the instituted defamation claim can be sustained. The words conveyed are defamatory, and damaged the plaintiff’s reputation as suggested.”