UNITED Family International Church leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, who is suing Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe for defamation, has been challenged to prove in court that he is truly a prophet, healer and charismatic preacher.
Prophet Makandiwa is claiming US$2 million damages from ANZ, the publishers of the Daily News, after the newspaper published a banner inscribed "Anglican saga sucks in Makandiwa".
The banner was posted on the streets and on the paper's online edition but no story was written about Makandiwa.
In the summons issued by Prophet Makandiwa end of last year, his lawyers Mushangwe and Company argued that their client was highly placed in the Christian circles being a prophet, healer and a charismatic preacher and that his reputation was injured.
Mushangwe and Company argued that their client was internationally and locally respected and that the damage he suffered as a result of the banner was worth US$2 million.
In the defendant's plea filed by ANZ lawyer, Mr Aleck Muchadehama recently, the publisher denies any knowledge that Prophet Makandiwa was a gifted and charismatic preacher and prophet, and challenged him to prove the claims.
"Defendant has no knowledge of plaintiff's being a gifted and charismatic preacher and prophet.
"Defendant will put the plaintiff to the proof of these averments," read part of the defendant's plea.
ANZ also argues that the poster in question did not specifically refer to Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa and that the words per se were not even defamatory.
"In any event the reference of being 'sucked in' is not in itself defamatory. There was nothing defamatory in the publication.
"No reasonable person will think badly about plaintiff by merely seeing the poster and without regard to the story," ANZ says.
In response to the defendant's plea, Prophet Makandiwa's lawyers maintained that the publication was defamatory and that ANZ had since issued an apology with little prominence. Through his lawyers, Prophet Makandiwa argued that the apology by ANZ was never accorded the befitting prominence and that it did not compensate him in any way.
But ANZ insists that the apology was only published at the instance and request of Prophet Makandiwa and that it was not confirmation that there was any defamation.
"The demand for an apology was not necessary. Defendant, however, published the apology following a request. Any perceived defamation was in any event cured by the apology," ANZ argues.
The publisher also described the US$2 million claim as ridiculous saying the plaintiff did not deserve such amount of money as damages. The matter is yet to be set down for pre-trial conference at the High Court.