HARARE – Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and the exiled former cabinet minister, Jonathan Moyo, have decided to settle their defamation battle which had escalated to the Supreme Court outside court.
This was revealed in court by Moyo’s lawyer, Sympathy Muzondiwa, who sought withdrawal of an appeal his client had filed with the Supreme Court after a High Court judge refused to throw out Chiwenga’s $5 million defamation claim.
Moyo had argued that his utterances do not disclose abuse of character.
Justice Thompson Mabhikwa, of the High Court, had ordered Moyo to defend the defamation claim filed by Chiwenga in 2017, prompting him to appeal at the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, Muzondiwa told the Supreme Court: “Parties have decided to settle the case amicably outside court.”
He then asked for a withdrawal.
But Supreme Court judges of appeal, Justices Ben Hlatshwayo, Anne-Mary Gowora and Lavender Makoni refused to entertain the withdrawal.
“Why do you want us to withdraw the matter instead of dismissing it? If we withdraw it, it will remain like some ghost that will continue moving in our corridors and we do not want that but we want to kill it completely… the appeal be and is hereby dismissed,” said Hlatshwayo, who also ordered Moyo to pay costs.
The matter returns to the High Court.
Chiwenga slapped Moyo with the lawsuit after the latter issued a press statement in July 2017 insinuating that the ex-military boss did not earn his doctorate degree with the University of KwaZulu Natal, but instead someone had authored the thesis on his behalf in fulfilment of his programme.
After receiving the summons, Moyo filed an exception application saying Chiwenga’s declaration had not disclosed any cause of action in that the words complained of were not defamatory in any way and could, under no circumstances, be damaging to his name and reputation.
But Justice Mabhikwa ruled that Chiwenga’s claim against Moyo was very precise, while ordering the former information minister to defend the action.