Daily News lawyer says defamation laws archaic

via Daily News lawyer says defamation laws archaic – DailyNews Live by Tendai Kamhungira  29 APRIL 2014

Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) lawyer Alec Muchadehama, who is representing the company’s Group Editor Stanley Gama and Senior Writer Fungi Kwaramba, in a current court case says criminal defamation is both archaic and unacceptable in a democratic society.

The two journalists are facing criminal charges following a report filed by controversial businessman, Kamal Khalfan, over stories linking the Omani citizen to underhand deals in Zimbabwe.

ANZ are the publishers of the Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday and the Weekend Post.

Khalfan’s matter against the two newsmen failed to kick off on two previous occasions, before the journalists finally appeared before a Harare magistrate yesterday.

The two appeared in court with Company Secretary and Group Finance Manager, Zweli Sibanda, who was representing ANZ.

Muchadehama told magistrate Douglas Chikwekwe that he would challenge the two journalists’ placement on remand and apply for the matter to be referred to the Constitutional Court, on May 15, which is the next remand date.

“We intend to give notice to the State that on the next remand date, we will make an application for referral to the Constitutional Court in terms of Section 175 (4) of the Constitution,” Muchadehama said.

He said the section under which the journalists are being charged was ultra vires a section of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and information.

Prosecutor Sharon Mashavira said it was the right of the suspects to challenge their placement on remand and proposed the release of the two newsmen on $50 bail.

However, Chikwekwe released the journalists on free bail and ordered to them to reside at the addresses they provided to the court.

The complainant, Khalfan, owns Catercraft among other businesses and has also sued the Daily News for a whopping $10 million in a civil lawsuit, related to the criminal case, in the country’s High Court.

This has brought under the national and international spotlights the country’s controversial and draconian criminal defamation law which media analysts, as well as Information minister Jonathan Moyo, say should be scrapped as it infringes on human rights.

With the law still in place, Khalfan — who holds a British passport and is the honorary counsel of the Sultan of Oman — accuses Gama, Kwaramba and ANZ of having published material which risked causing “serious” harm to his reputation.

The Daily News denies the three counts preferred against the two journalists and is defending the action.

In January, the Daily News carried stories on how businessmen such as Khalfan were using their influence and political connectivity to introduce investors to President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe is awash with businessmen or fixers who arrange meetings with politicians and stitch deals together for multi-million dollar fees.

In some of the contested e-mails in the Khalfan case seen by the Daily News, a German national, Dietrich Herzog, requests that Khalfan — who claims in the e-mails to be politically-connected — assist him to acquire diamonds from top government officials using opaque methods.

Khalfan confirmed knowledge of both Dietrich and the e-mails at the time that theDaily News wrote the stories.

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 5
  • comment-avatar
    apolitical 8 years ago

    This lawyer is a member of the law society and one of the principals are to uphold and PROMOTE the law.
    Such a statement is clearly in contradiction of the legal practitioners act and its amendments and therefore this lawyer should be barred from practicing in Zimbabwe by the law society.

  • comment-avatar
    Little Dorrit 8 years ago

    Were you barred AP?

    • comment-avatar

      How can a private individual have journalists arrested based on an accusation and the merits of bail are being discussed before these journalists have even been proven to have actually printed lies or the truth? Unfortunately this is the state of Zimbabwe legal affairs today and sadly the political affairs are even worse. Zimbabweans are a nation are all very nice people however they obviously have not profited from the “so called” good education they claim to have had, otherwise they would be doing away with these laws, crooked businessmen, crooked police and more so crooked Politico’s

      • comment-avatar
        apolitical 8 years ago

        @JR56 when you have a reputation you will understand, its easy if some defames your name , you go to the police station they open a docket and charge them with criminal defamation.
        Read it slowly its how the law works internationally.
        At primary school you get a smacked bottom if you haven’t learnt then the police charge you and you can go to prison. Solution is don’t tell lies about others or spread gossip unless you have evidence to prove it is true – what a journalist makes up is not evidence!
        Beginning to understand!

    • comment-avatar
      apolitical 8 years ago

      @ Little Dorit.
      I have never been disbarred for two reasons 1. I don’t invent stories an d believe in the truth and 2. I believe in obeying the law.
      This lawyer has contravened the legal practitioners act 1981 which is a criminal offence in terms of that act, so we have one criminal representing another.
      Unfortunately for the client any Judge will view this lawyer as a criminal so his client will suffer.
      There will be written complaint to the Law Society Disciplinary Committee copied of course to the Minister of Justice and the prosecutors office.
      There is a significant need for the law society to administer their members and cease covering up for them. I am aware there has been international complaint reaching the ICC at the Hague, the only complaint accepted with evidence, unfortunately/fortunately there has been no evidence for the press propaganda stories, thus the case against the law society and its members is the only human rights case accepted by the ICC investigations and evidence unit. – its time the acted before tighter controls are placed on them as is necessary in the Media.
      Fascinating isn’t it, factually,the only case of human rights infringements in Zimbabwe is effectively against so called human rights lawyers, the law society and its members.