Tsvangirai, Mphoko in settlement talks

Former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko

HARARE – MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is in talks to settle a defamation lawsuit against Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, who alleged the former prime minister was once involved in an assassination attempt on the late national icon Joshua Nkomo and was also behind the Gukurahundi atrocities.

Mphoko told journalists after a closed-door meeting in February with the Zanu PF leadership at Davies Hall — the Zanu PF provincial headquarters in Bulawayo — that Tsvangirai had participated in the atrocities that saw more than 20 000 civilians killed in Matabeleland and Midlands between 1983 and 1987, when the national army’s Fifth Brigade crushed dissent by so-called “dissidents”, disgruntled former guerrillas and supporters of  the late VP Nkomo’s Zapu.

Mphoko made the remarks after Tsvangirai’s whirlwind 10-day listening tour of the three Matabeleland provinces where he heard the deep-seated sentiment from community leaders who urged him to investigate the Gukurahundi massacres if he takes office next year.

Tsvangirai hit back last week through his Atherston and Cook attorneys, demanding a retraction and public apology because “you must realise now, in the context of the falsity of your statements that your allegations against our client regarding Gukurahundi are not only untruthful . . . they are terribly defamatory.”

Chris Mhike, who is representing Tsvangirai, told the Daily News yesterday: “Defendant’s legal practitioners are engaged over plaintiff’s letter of demand.

“We are presently jointly exploring the possibility of an amicable resolution.  In the meantime, plaintiff has held in abeyance the contemplated legal action.”