Zimbabwe: Journalist Chinóno Sued U.S.$100,000 for Defamation

16 September 2021

AWARD-winning journalist Hopewell Chin'ono is being sued for defamation to the tune of US$100 000 by President Emmerson Mnangagwa's lawyer Tinomudaishe Chinyoka.

Chinyoka is claiming that the journalist defamed him after he made some Twitter and Facebook posts claiming that he was ignorant.

The alleged damaging tweet was made on April 29 this year.

In May, Chinyoka wrote a letter to Chinóno demanding an apology over the posts.

He gave him a few days ultimatum adding that if the journalist refuses, he had no option but to sue him for US$50 000.

According to court papers, the tweet reads, "When @advocatemahere, @JobSikhala1 & myself were arrested, the world saw what it means to have a degree & yet be empty. Zanu-PF sent its surrogates like Bright Matonga, Obert Gutu & Tino Chinyoka to defend the use of a law that doesn't exist. It was ignorance & stomach politics."

The Facebook post was almost similar.

Chinóno further said, it was ignorance and stomach politics on show. To avoid being subjected to what is in this video, register to vote

He went on to attach numbers to call for more information.

Chinyoka claimed the film maker had blocked him on his twitter account so that he can freely tarnish his image without being noticed.

Both the tweet and the Facebook post contained a link to a five-minute video in which a person identified as Bright Matonga baselessly claims that a law passed in 2016 and which is allegedly part of the Zimbabwean law justified his arrest in the circumstances relevant to Chinóno before his lawyer Doug Colthart.

Chinyoka said the statements according to his understanding imply that he shares the same position with Matonga.

The lawyer complained that the posts were widely circulated therefore the damage is far reaching.

The said tweet and Facebook statement stated or implied that the plaintiff had been sent by Zanu PF to defend the use of a law that does not exist, he might be degreed but is vacous, he is ignorant of the law and he had been motivated by greed in his legal practice.

His lawyers wrote: "The said tweet and Facebook statement in the context were defamatory of the plaintiff in that they had the effect of lowering him in the estimation of reasonable ordinary persons generally.

"They diminished his esteem or standing in the eyes of ordinary members of the public, they had the potential of causing the plaintiff to be shunned or avoided by legal practitioners on whom he relies for briefs and the general public. The statements exposed the plaintiff to hatred, ridicule or contempt, they cast aspersions on his character, trade, business and profession."

The matter is yet to be heard.

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