THE Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) has filed a $10 million lawsuit against online publication Zim Morning Post editor, Elias Mambo over a story which claimed the company’s had been granted a free to air television broadcasting licence on account of proximity to state functionaries.
Mambo is being sued together with the publication’s journalist Fani Mapfumo.
Cited as applicants in the summons are Jester Media Services and Modus Media – both of which operated under the ANZ ambit .
The companies’ directors, Jethro and Esther Goko are also co-applicants.
The claims arise from an article titled; ‘Tagwirei Pockets Daily News’ published in Zim Morning Post on November 24, 2020.
According to the summons, the article claimed the plaintiffs had been bankrolled by businessman, Kuda Tagwirei in securing a free-to-air television licence.
The publication also stated Tagwirei was expected to place a proxy among the directors of the plaintiffs after its application for free to air television licence was granted by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ).
It further claimed licence was granted as it with the Daily News’ “radical shift” in its editorial policy, which was once feared government critic but had been reduced to singing state praises.
Mambo is also alleged to have published the government editorial policy coupled with Tagwirei’s influence appeared to have catapulted the publication television licence application to land one of the six slots on offer for free-to-air TV licences.
The publication also quoted the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) claiming it was worried if the state capture trend continued as only individuals with government links would be granted broadcasting licences.
“The said words in the context of the article are wrongful and defamatory of plaintiffs in that they were intended and were understood by readers of the Zim Morning Post Newsletter to mean that plaintiffs are dishonest in one or more of the following way, they had been corruptly bankrolled by Kuda Tagwirei in securing a free-to-air television licence,” argued the plaintiffs.
They said the article was defamatory as Tagwirei would have influence in the content of their publications, and that they were unworthy business people who only got a television licence because of their links with the business tycoon.
“Apart from the defamatory meaning of the article as set out above, the article carries the additional sting that plaintiffs are corrupt, unprofessional, not independent media practitioners, without moral fibre, government parrots instead of being independent media practitioners, sly, sneaky, unscrupulous and devious.” – Newzim