A private company, believed to be linked to a “prominent” ZANU-PF official, has been granted permission to sue two independent daily newspapers, claiming they published stories about political violence that caused them financial loss.
By Tererai Karimakwenda as published by our top partner SW Radio Africa
Vakakora Capital had approached the High Court, claiming that a Namibian bank cancelled a loan for $250 million after reading political violence stories published by NewsDay and the Daily News newspapers in May 2011.
Vakakora claims the stories misrepresented the situation in Zimbabwe and influenced the bank’s decision. But the company’s links to ZANU-PF would indicate that this is just another attempt to muzzle independent newspapers, ahead of elections due next year.
Andy Moyse, director at the watchdog Media Monitoring Project (MMPZ), agrees. He explained that the case is still in its initial stages, where the judge simply granted permission for the company to sue. In the past publishers could only be sued for defamation, but this ruling adds another dimension, misrepresentation.
“The judge said they can sue for a civil wrong that is alleged at the moment. I would imagine there are absolutely no grounds for it to succeed. They will have to prove that the reports were inaccurate, when in fact there was plenty of evidence showing a continuation and rise of political violence at the time,” Moyse said.
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