Fidelis Munyoro Chief Reporter
Self-exiled politician Jonathan Moyo will now face a civil trial in the case in which Vice President Constantino Chiwenga is claiming $5 million for defamation.
Both parties’ lawyers agreed to have the appeal filed by Moyo at the Supreme Court withdrawn and proceed with the trial in the lower court.
Moyo’s lawyer, Mr Sympathy Muzondiwa of Atherstone and Cook yesterday notified the court of the latest development.
However, Justice Ben Hlatshwayo sitting with Justices Anne-Mary Gowora and Lavender Makoni — said the appeal could not be left hanging and tossed it out.
Mr Muzondiwa told The Herald that: “The parties by consent have withdrawn the appeal matter and are going back to the High Court to proceed with the matter on the merits.”
Early this year, the High Court ruled that Moyo had a case to answer in the $5 million suit and should face civil trial.
The civil suit stems from a Press statement issued by Moyo in July 2017, insinuating that VP Chiwenga did not earn his doctorate degree with the University of KwaZulu Natal, but instead, someone authored the thesis on his behalf in fulfilment of the programme.
The statement was published on various media platforms, portraying the VP as a dishonesty person who cheated to get the PhD qualification.
Part of the Press statement deemed to be defamatory read: “Finally, I’m happy that Chiwenga wants pre and post-independence disclosures about who was who, who did what and so forth. That’s good.
“Meanwhile, I take that to mean he wants the disclosure of who contributed what to his doctorate and who really wrote his KZN PhD. Again, the Shona wisdom that kunyarara kurinani pane kutaura, (keeping quiet is better than talking) applies. #Handeitione.”
VP Chiwenga, through his lawyers Messrs Manase and Manase Legal Practitioners, argued that the statement was highly defamatory of him and he is entitled to the damages.
The lawyers contend that the words were wrongful and that Moyo only sought to soil his good name.
VP Chiwenga contends that the same words can be taken to mean that he plagiarised and violated the research methods at the university, which is an act of misconduct.
VP Chiwenga, who was the then military chief is a decorated liberation war hero held in high esteem locally and regionally, suffered severe damage to his reputation and moral standing, the lawyers argued.
To that end, the VP is claiming the $5 million plus interest. He is also seeking an order for costs on a punitive scale against Moyo.
Moyo had responded with an exception application, saying the retired general’s declaration had not disclosed any cause of action.
He averred that the words VP Chiwenga was complaining about were not defamatory in any way and could, under no circumstances, be damaging to his reputation.