Fidelis Munyoro Harare Bureau
VICE President Phelekezela Mphoko has made an application for a $50 million default order against the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publisher of The Daily News, in a defamation suit the newspaper failed to defend on Tuesday.
Mphoko sued The Daily News for $50 million over a report claiming that he was “a sellout” and “enriched himself with the blood of the people of this country”.
The Daily News chief reporter Fungi Kwaramba, editor-in-chief Stanley Gama, ANZ and Printco (Pvt) Ltd were listed as respondents at the High Court over the June 5, 2015, article published under the headline: “Mphoko was a sellout: Sibanda”.
It was quoting the former war veterans leader, Jabulani Sibanda.
The matter was brought for a pre-trial hearing before Justice Joseph Musakwa sitting in his chambers on Tuesday.
However, the defendants and their lawyers failed to attend the hearing prompting Mphoko’s lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa to apply for all the defendants’ pleas to be struck out. “The judge granted our application and directed that the matter proceed as an unopposed matter in the High Court,” said Mlotshwa.
“The matter is likely to be determined in the next few weeks.”
The article complained of said in part: “Fearless former war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda claims that VP Mphoko sold out during the liberation struggle when he allegedly diverted weapons meant for the late Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu to President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, a move he says could have led to the needless death of thousands of people.”
In his claim, Mphoko argues that he was branded a treasonous villain who for his own benefit clandestinely supplied apartheid South Africa with war material that was in turn supplied to Selous Scouts.
Selous Scouts were a Special Forces regiment of the Rhodesian army formed for specific purposes of clandestine elimination of Zanla and Zipra guerillas during the liberation war.
Mphoko’s lawyer also asked for the article to be deleted from The Daily News website to prevent further damage to his reputation.