The publisher of the banned Daily News in Zimbabwe has won a defamation claim against the country’s information minister Jonathan Moyo and the government-backed Herald newspaper.
A judge has ordered Moyo, seen as a leading opponent of the Daily News, to pay Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) ZWD$2.5 million (£260). The publisher of the Herald has been ordered to pay ANZ ZWD$5 million (£520) and columnist Nataniel Manheru ZWD$250,000 (£26).
The awards only translate into a few hundred pounds because of the poor exchange rate. But ANZ chief executive officer Sam Nkomo said afterwards: “For us it is not about money but about justice, freedom of the press and that those in responsible positions should not use those positions to abuse others.”
The ANZ claimed ZWD$50 million against Moyo, the Herald and columnist Nathaniel Manheru after stories were published alleging The Daily News peddled British propaganda.
ANZ lawyer Adrian de Bourbon told the court that Moyo defamed the newspaper. He cited several statements in The Herald where Moyo alleged that ANZ was publishing “anti-Zimbabwe stories meant to peddle British intelligence propaganda”.
De Bourbon accused Moyo of abusing his position as a government minister to pursue an agenda against the ANZ. When asked how many cases he had instituted against ANZ, Moyo said: “I can’t remember because they are in the business of defaming people, they are too numerous to remember.”
In addressing the court, de Bourbon submitted that the respondents had failed to make a proper defence on a requirement for fair comment.
The respondents’ lawyer, Johannes Tomana has vowed to appeal against the judgment.
By Jon Slattery