The Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Dominic Guveya Nyikadzino Chiwenga has slapped Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo with a $5 million defamation lawsuit. Gen Chiwenga is suing over a press statement issued by Prof Moyo in July this year, insinuating that the military boss did not earn his doctorate degree with the University of KwaZulu Natal, but instead, someone authored the thesis on his behalf in fulfilment of the programme.
Prof Moyo issued the statement on July 9 and it was published on various media platforms, portraying the ZDF Commander as a dishonesty person who cheated to get the PhD qualification.
Part of the press statement deemed to be defamatory read: "Finally, I'm happy that Chiwenga wants pre and post-independence disclosures about who was who, who did what and so forth. That's good. Meanwhile, I take that to mean he wants the disclosure of who contributed what to his doctorate and who really wrote his KZN PhD. Again, the Shona wisdom that kunyarara kurinani pane kutaura, applies. #Handeitione."
Gen Chiwenga, through his lawyers Mr Wilson Manase and Mr Wellington Pasipanodya of Manase and Manase Legal Practitioners, argues that the statement was highly defamatory of him and he is entitled to the damages. The lawyers argued that the words were wrongful and that the minister only sought to soil the general's good name.
"The words in the context of the article, are wrongful, and defamatory per se of the plaintiff in that they were intended and understood by readers to mean that the plaintiff lacks integrity, is dishonesty, deceitful, and fraudulent in that he never made a contribution towards his post-graduate doctorate studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and that another person wrote the thesis as a fulfilment to his doctoral studies," reads the plaintiff's declaration. Gen Chiwenga contends that the same words can be taken to mean that he plagiarised and violated the research methods at the university, which is an act of misconduct.
"Apart from the defamatory statement, was an intention to convey an innuendo that the plaintiff is in fact, dishonesty, deceitful and given the fraudulent behaviour, that his academic post-graduate Doctorate in Philosophy qualification from the University of KwaZulu-Natal is an academic fraud . . .," reads the declaration. Gen Chiwenga, who is the military boss, a decorated liberation war hero held in high esteem locally and regionally, suffered severe damage to his reputation and moral standing, the lawyers argued.
To that end, Gen Chiwenga is claiming the $5 million plus interest. He is also seeking an order for costs on a punitive scale against Prof Moyo. The press statement appeared in various publications was daily, weekly newspapers and other media platforms that are widely read world over. The contents of the statement were quoted and published in The Herald, Chronicle, newzimbabwe.com, Zimeye and various social media platforms. Prof Moyo is yet to respond to the claim.