Former Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo’s $9 million defamation lawsuit against Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) and its journalists crumbled on Thursday after the High Court dismissed it with costs.
Prof Moyo had sued Zimpapers, together with editors and reporters of the integrated media house, alleging that he had been defamed after the group’s tittles published allegations that he siphoned more than $400 000 from Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund through dubious activities.
High Court Judge Justice Jesta Charehwa dismissed the case with costs in her chambers yesterday, after Prof Moyo and his legal practitioners failed to attend a pre-trial conference aimed at discussing how to manage the case before it proceeded to trial.
Zimpapers lawyer Advocate Brian Hungwe submitted that for the past three months they had been running back and forth trying to locate Prof Moyo’s legal practitioners.
This was after a law firm that initially represented him renounced agency.
Adv Hungwe implored the court to take judicial notice that Prof Moyo was wanted by law enforcement agencies in respect of criminal cases, some of which were founded on the present suit.
“It is my submission that the plaintiff is in wilful default and I pray that the case be dismissed with costs,” said Adv Hungwe, before Justice Charehwa.
In the lawsuit, Prof Moyo cited Brian Chitemba, Mabasa Sasa, Limukani Ncube, Lloyd Gumbo, Zvamaida Murwira, Caesar Zvayi, Innocent Madonko and Zimpapers, as respondents.
Prof Moyo’s whereabouts is unknown, amid some reports that he is holed up in Kenya.
He is facing criminal charges together with his former deputy, Godfrey Gandawa, who has since been issued with a warrant of arrest after he failed to attend trial when it was due to commence at the High Court last year.
In his suit, Prof Moyo had submitted that a number of articles that were published by The Herald, Chronicle, The Sunday News and The Sunday Mail that allegedly portrayed him as a dishonest man, a thief and a corrupt minister unfit to hold public office.
In his declaration, Moyo cited articles published with following headlines: “Probe into Prof Moyo, Dr Gandawa: The Details”, “Moyo likens self to Robin Hood”, “Prof Moyo ‘admits’ funds abuse”, “Zanu-PF didn’t get Zimdef loot”, “Parly summons Professor Moyo” and “Parly summons Professor Moyo to explain Zimdef abuse allegations”.