Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has given Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo a seven-day ultimatum to retract allegations that the veteran politician forced a prominent broadcaster to jump from the second floor of a Harare building, leaving him paralysed for life.
By Everson Mushava
Moyo claimed in a video presentation at a Zanu PF politburo meeting in July that Mnangagwa had given Godfrey Majonga two options; to either sit on a hot stove or jump out of his flat after they allegedly clashed over a woman.
President Robert Mugabe told a Zanu PF rally in Bindura recently that Majonga’s case was among many raised against the VP by the Tsholotsho North MP.
He said Mnangagwa told him he had prepared an 85-page response to Moyo, but in a dramatic twist, the VP’s lawyers on Friday wrote to the minister demanding that he retract the allegations using the country’s main newspapers or face a $3 million lawsuit.
Mnangagwa’s lawyers Dube, Manikai and Hwacha, said Moyo must unreservedly apologise to his nemesis.
“We are instructed to demand that you retract the statements and offer an unqualified apology approved by our client, which shall be placed on a prominent page of all newspaper publications circulating in Zimbabwe including the Herald, NewsDay, Daily News, Financial Gazette, the Chronicle and the Zimbabwe Independent within seven days of the date of this letter,” reads part of the letter dated September 22.
“Our client reserves the right to approach the courts claiming damages for defamation caused by the video presentation of July 19 2017 and the continuing damage being caused by its continued online /internet publication.
The lawyers said if Moyo failed to comply, the matter would be taken to court.
“In the event that you fail to meet the demand in this letter, for an apology and retraction of the defamatory statements within seven days of the date of this letter, our instructions are to commence civil proceedings against you, claiming damages without further notice. In this regard, we have assessed damages caused to our client to be three million United States Dollars (US$ 3 000 000),” the letter added.
Mnangagwa’s lawyers said Moyo’s video contained “scurrilous, scandalous and fallacious allegations.” They said the allegations had damaged the VP’s reputation.
“Our client is a senior member of Zanu PF, is vice-president and second secretary,” the letter said.
“He is also vice-president of the Republic and is responsible for administering the ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
“Our client has served his political party and the nation for decades in a number of different capacities.
“He has built a reputation as a respected politician and leader; he also served in government and Parliament since independence. Our client is a happily married family man.”
However, a defiant Moyo yesterday said he was ready to meet the VP in court, signalling what could be the beginning of a bruising legal battle between the two Zanu PF politicians who are at loggerheads over Mugabe’s succession.
“First, the fact that VP Mnangagwa’s letter was written and delivered on Friday September 22 makes its timing interesting given not only related events of the week, but also that the video in question was presented more than two months ago. But that is a matter for another day,” Moyo said when contacted for comment.
“Otherwise let me say, in the strongest possible terms, that in the interest of truth and justice as well as in the public interest, I’m ready to meet VP Mnangagwa in court over this matter anytime.
He added: “And let me add that it would be a terrible mistake for anyone to think that the material in that politburo video was put together and presented in the manner it was without due consideration of the facts and the law.”
Moyo accused Mnangagwa of plotting against Mugabe during the explosive politburo meeting.
On the other hand, the VP claimed the minister was an agent of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency who was destroying Zanu PF from within.
Mnangagwa has been under pressure lately as first lady Grace Mugabe started to openly fight in Moyo’s corner and accusing the VP of plotting against her husband.