Zimbabwe: Biti's Bid to Block Us$1m Suit Fails

Jerry Chifamba/allAfrica

31 AUGUST 2021

The Herald (Harare)

By Fidelis Munyoro

MDC-Alliance vice president Tendai Biti's motion to block a US$1 million defamation suit against him and his political party for insulting a Russian national, Ms Tatiana Alishen, was thrown out by the High Court.

Ms Alishen issued summons against Mr Biti accusing him and the MDC Alliance of insulting her and defaming Augur Investments - a company she has interests in - after tweeting that it was corrupt.

Augur Investments, Ms Alishen, the company director and its owner Mr Ken Raydon Sharpe, are listed as plaintiffs' while Biti and MDC-Alliance are cited as defendants in the suit.

As a result of the statements, the company seeks damages against Biti and his party arguing that the politician made defamatory statements that caused reputational damage to the natural and juristic persons of the plaintiffs.

Biti denies the allegations and raised an exception to the summons and a special plea to bar Augur Investments audience to contend the defamation claims of the plaintiffs.

The special plea related to the question of payment of security for costs and whether a corporation could be defamed.

Augur Investments is a foreign company at law and when foreign companies sue in this jurisdiction, they are required to pay security for costs at the High Court.

Biti argued that Augur Investments had failed to pay security for costs hence it has no right to the jurisdiction of the High Court here and its claim, therefore, should be thrown out.

The basis for Biti's exception to the summons was anchored on two grounds that the claim was defective and that there was no link between Ms Alishen and Mr Sharpe, with the statements complained of.

In counter-argument, Augur Investments submitted that failure to pay costs for security could not be used to defeat their claim.

The company averred that the question of security for costs was one borne out of practice, as such Mr Biti should have demanded such costs from them.

And in the event that the parties failed to agree, Biti should have approached the court demanding payment of the costs. The court, argued the company through its legal counsel, would then decide the matter, hence it need not to come as a special plea.

The company also argued that the exception, which Biti sought was unfounded and could not stand in this matter.

However, Justice Jacob Manzunzu dismissed the special plea and exception by Biti finding that an artificial person can sue for damages and hence Augur Investments was legally correct in suing Biti and MDC-A.

Ultimately, the judge dismissed as having no merit, the point which Biti had raised that a corporate cannot be defamed.

"I can do more than agree with the plaintiffs . . . the action against the first defendant (Biti) is based on two articles as shown . . ." said Justice Manzunzu.

"The second defendant (MDC-A) is partly based on the repetition of the articles by the first defendant and secondly an article with specific reference to the involvement of second plaintiff (Ms Alishen) in the alleged corruption.

An online news organisation, NewsHawks, which was also sued, had the claim against it cancelled as they apologised and rectified their mistake. 

No comments

Thank you for reaching out to us. We are happy to receive your opinion and request. If you need advert or sponsored post, We’re excited you’re considering advertising or sponsoring a post on our blog. Your support is what keeps us going. With the current trend, it’s very obvious content marketing is the way to go. Banner advertising and trying to get customers through Google Adwords may get you customers but it has been proven beyond doubt that Content Marketing has more lasting benefits.
We offer majorly two types of advertising:
1. Sponsored Posts: If you are really interested in publishing a sponsored post or a press release, video content, advertorial or any other kind of sponsored post, then you are at the right place.
Generally, a sponsored post can be any of the following:
Press release
Video content
This kind of post is usually written to promote you or your business. However, we do prefer posts that naturally flow with the site’s general content. This means we can also promote artists, songs, cosmetic products and things that you love of all products or services.
Every sponsored article will remain live on the site as long as this website exists. The duration is indefinite! Again, we will share your post on our social media channels and our email subscribers too will get to read your article. You’re exposing your article to our: Twitter followers, Facebook fans and other social networks.

We will also try as much as possible to optimize your post for search engines as well.

Submission of Materials : Sponsored post should be well written in English language and all materials must be delivered via electronic medium. All sponsored posts must be delivered via electronic version, either on disk or e-mail on Microsoft Word unless otherwise noted.
The price largely depends on if you’re writing the content or we’re to do that. But if your are writing the content, it is $60 per article.

2. Banner Advertising: We also offer banner advertising in various sizes and of course, our prices are flexible. you may choose to for the weekly rate or simply buy your desired number of impressions.

Technical Details And Pricing
Banner Size 300 X 250 pixels : Appears on the home page and below all pages on the site.
Banner Size 728 X 90 pixels: Appears on the top right Corner of the homepage and all pages on the site.
Large rectangle Banner Size (336x280) : Appears on the home page and below all pages on the site.
Small square (200x200) : Appears on the right side of the home page and all pages on the site.
Half page (300x600) : Appears on the right side of the home page and all pages on the site.
Portrait (300x1050) : Appears on the right side of the home page and all pages on the site.
Billboard (970x250) : Appears on the home page.

Submission of Materials : Banner ads can be in jpeg, jpg and gif format. All materials must be deliverd via electronic medium. All ads must be delivered via electronic version, either on disk or e-mail in the ordered pixel dimensions unless otherwise noted.
For advertising offers, send an email with your name,company, website, country and advert or sponsored post you want to appear on our website to omodjk(at)gmail(dot)com

Normally, we should respond within 48 hours.