Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
Facebook statements accusing two Cabinet ministers of poisoning Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa have backfired for businessman Mr Energy Mutodi after the pair slapped him with a $40 000 defamation lawsuit.
The high-profile lawsuit was filed at the High Court last Friday. Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa are claiming $20 000 each from Mr Mutodi as defamation damages.
Mr Mutodi allegedly posted on his Facebook wall an article titled “TWO MINISTERS TOP SUSPECTS IN ED POISON CASE” which circulated countrywide and beyond the borders. The article was posted around August 25 this year.
The article, according to the ministers, put them in bad light as it insinuated that they gave VP Mnangagwa samosa, sandwiches and grapes that were laced with poison. The food, according to the online report, came from Minister Sekeramayi’s home.
Through their lawyers Machingura Legal Practitioners, the two ministers sued Mr Mutodi for defamation. According to the plaintiffs’ declaration, the meaning and implications of the article were false and wrongful with an effect of portraying the two as murderers as opposed to medical doctors who should be saving lives.
The two stated in the declaration that the post wrongly made people think that they conspired to poison the VP and that the poisoning was pre-meditated. The duo also argued that the article damaged their reputation as it insinuated that they abused their specialist knowledge and expertise as medical doctors to harm the VP.
It was also stated in the declaration that the article wrongly insinuated that the two ministers “conspired to fabricate false allegations that the Honourable VP had been poisoned at a rally by ice cream from Gushungo Dairy and further that plaintiffs made these false allegations to conceal and cover up their plot”.
The lawyers said: “The post was made and published with intention to defame plaintiffs and to injure their respective reputations. As a result of the defamation, plaintiffs have been individually damaged in their reputation and have respectively suffered damages in the sum of $20 000 each,” reads the declaration.
The lawyers indicated that the ministers have tried to recover the damages outside court with no success, hence the institution of the court action. The pair is seeking an order for payment of damages with costs. Mr Mutodi is yet to respond to the claim.