BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo has appealed against a High Court judgement that paved the way for Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga to sue him for alleged defamation.
Moyo, on January 16 this year, was given a 10-day ultimatum by the High Court to defend the $5 million damages claim by Chiwenga after his application for exception to the charges was dismissed with costs.
However, in his notice of appeal, Moyo said he was appealing against Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Thompson Mabhikwa’s ruling on the grounds that he was not the one who heard the case.
He argued that Mabhikwa grossly misdirected himself in handing over judgement in a case heard by another judge.
“The court grossly misdirected itself in rendering judgement inspite and regardless of oral submissions by the parties before Justice Makoni J and the court also erred in affording respondent relief, which he had not sought and on which no submissions had been made by the parties,” reads part of the appeal filed last week.
“The courta a quo erred at any rate in finding that the declaration discloses a valid cause of action and is otherwise not vague and embarrassing”
The former minister, who was forced into exile during the 2017 military coup that toppled former president Robert Mugabe, wants his appeal to be granted with costs and for Mabhikwa’s judgement to be set aside.
Chiwenga sued Moyo after the former Zanu PF strategist issued a statement in July 2017 where he insinuated that the army commander at the time did not write the thesis for his doctorate degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
He suggested that someone wrote the thesis on Chiwenga’s behalf.
Moyo, through his lawyers, filed an exception application, saying the retired general’s declaration had not disclosed any cause of action.
He said the words he was complaining about were not defamatory in any way and could, under no circumstances, be damaging to his reputation.
However, Justice Mabhikwa ruled that Chiwenga’s claim against Moyo was precise.
“It is this court’s finding that anyone reading these documents [defendant’s papers included] cannot claim to be disillusioned as to what damages are claimed,” read part of the judgement.
“The claim is for defamation damages clearly as opposed to adultery damages, damages for loss of earnings or any other damages.
“The terminology used need not necessarily always be ‘defamation damage.”