FORMER ICT minister and serving legislator Supa Mandiwanzira is demanding damages amounting to $1 million from Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) over what he terms defamatory content against his person.
In a letter of demand to TIZ, sent through his lawyers, Zenas Chimwa Murombe, Mandiwanzira accused TIZ of supplying lies about him to South African publication, Daily Maverick, which ran a damning report last week implicating him in corrupt activities.
TIZ recently caused the publication of a report which has the title, “Annual State of Corruption Report: Focus on State owned enterprises”.
The report accused the Nyanga South MP of owning a company, Univern PVT LTD, that purchased snow graders for state entity Zinara.
Mandiwanzira is demanding ZWL$1m as in legal costs as well as a retraction of the story.
“Compensation be paid through our trust account in the sum of ZWL$1 000 000.00 (One million Zimbabwean dollars) for costs incurred in engaging legal counsel to advise and attend to your defamatory abuse and nominal damages for the defamation as aforementioned.
“We can quantify the same to your satisfaction once liability is accepted but there is opposition to the amount stated.
“In light of the facts above and the legal conclusions we draw from them, we have been instructed to demand that within 72 hours of receiving this letter you jointly and severally as the authors/contributors of the said defamatory statements, do issue a public retraction of the untrue statements in your article as mentioned in the body of this letter.
“This public retraction should be issued as a press release and published on your website together with all your social media accounts,” read the letter.
According to the article, Mandivanzira, also a broadcaster, gobbled US$8m in the deal and bought low standard graders, a matter which he is denying.
Mandiwanzira said the article affected his reputation as a businessman and politician.
“In light of the above, we are convinced that at law, the cited statements of Supa Mandiwanzira published by yourselves meet the requirements of a defamatory occasion.
“Your false statements, made without any justification we can glean from the laws of defamation are, in their ordinary meaning, defamatory per se of Supa Mandiwanzira being understood by the ordinary reader to mean that our client is corrupt, unintelligent and abuses public offices.
“Our client is a sitting Member of Parliament who is the custodian of the will of the people of Nyanga South and broadly the Zimbabwean People’s will and desire for fair minded, honest, moral and lawful representation in the Parliament of Zimbabwe.
“Your publication portrays deceit and betrayal to the people who elected our client into public office, washing away the perception of virtue which is so difficult to repair.
“Our client being an active politician is at risk of losing the credibility that earned him the mandate to be a servant of the people,” read the letter.
According to the letter, the article was carried by SABC.
“Our client is also a businessperson with his business footprint on the international scale for his entrepreneurial drive.
“We can document his vast business interests at your behest. Your ‘global’ publication does much harm into our client’s integrity and potential to land meaningful business relationships going forward.
“You have, in one publication, managed the dual role of suffocating a political and business image. That surely cannot go unrectified,” wrote the lawyers.