By Fidelis Munyoro
VICE-President Phelekezela Mphoko has sued Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the publisher of The Daily News, over a report claiming that he was “a sellout” and “enriched himself with the blood of the people of this country”.
Mphoko says the article was defamatory, and is demanding $50 million compensation from the paper for libel.
Mphoko has sued The Daily News chief reporter Fungi Kwaramba, editor-in-chief Stanley Gama, ANZ and Printco (Pvt) Ltd at the High Court over the June 5, 2015, article published under the headline: “Mphoko was a sellout: Sibanda”.
The article said in part: “Fearless former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda claims that VP Mphoko sold out during the liberation struggle when he allegedly diverted weapons meant for the late Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu to President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, a move he says could have led to the needless death of thousands of people.”
Mphoko’s lawyers say the Vice-President was branded a treasonous villain who for his own benefit, clandestinely supplied apartheid South Africa with war material that was in turn supplied to Selous Scouts.
Selous Scouts were a Special Forces regiment of the Rhodesian army formed for the specific purposes of clandestine elimination of Zanla and Zipra guerillas during the liberation war.
“As a result of the defamatory publication, the plaintiff’s standing as a war veteran, diplomat and vice-president has been diminished and soiled locally, regionally and internationally.”
The Vice-President, who is being represented by his lawyer Gerald Mlothswa, also wants the article deleted from The Daily News website to prevent further damage to his reputation.
“The Daily News . . . is widely distributed in Zimbabwe and is extensively read by the general public,” he said.
“The newspaper also has an online edition on the Internet which published the same article. The article therefore had and still has an international audience. The damage to the plaintiff’s reputation is a continuing one.”
Vice-President Mphoko said he had been damaged in his reputation and “has suffered damages in the amount of $50 million.”
Last month, Mlotshwa wrote to the ANZ demanding a full retraction but the newspaper refused to apologise. The Herald