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Biti loses US$1m defamation appeal

The High Court had ordered that the trial proceed after Biti objected to the lawsuit but lost it by default judgment.

THE Supreme Court of Zimbabwe has dismissed an application for leave to appeal filed by opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator Tendai Biti who is faces a US$1 million lawsuit for allegedly defaming Augur Investments’ top executives Kenneth Raydon Sharpe and Tatiana Aleshina.

Biti's application for leave to appeal at the Supreme Court was struck off the roll with costs by Justice Alfas Chitakunye saying it was improperly placed before the court.

The High Court had ordered that the trial proceed after Biti objected to the lawsuit but lost it by default judgment.

The opposition legislator then approached the Supreme Court seeking leave to appeal the High Court’s verdict.

Justice Chitakunye said Biti should have purged the default judgement he lost at the High Court first before he approached the Supreme Court for leave to appeal that order.

The judge said Biti also filed his application after the mandatory 10-day period stipulated in the Supreme Court rules had lapsed.

The court said the CCC MP should have first sought condonation to file his application out of time.

Biti's appeal comes after his application for exception was dismissed by High Court judge, Justice Jacob Manzunzu in 2021.

He was sued after he allegedly labelled Sharpe as one of the most corrupt people looting Zimbabwe’s resources.

The trial was due to commence before High Court judge, Justice Tawanda Chitapi but failed to kick off after the opposition legislator filed an appeal against the High Court’s ruling at the Supreme Court.

Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, who was representing property developer Augur Investments had accused Biti of buying time by seeking a postponement as the matter had been pending since 2021.

But Biti’s lawyer Lovemore Madhuku challenged the application saying his client  came to court, well aware that the case was going to be postponed since it was appealed against.

Augur Investments is seeking US$500 000 damages from Biti while its chief operations officer, Aleshina is claiming US$100 000. Sharpe wants US$400 000.

 The company said Biti defamed its proprietor by making baseless claims.

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