LOCAL government minister Saviour Kasukuwere is demanding $7m in defamation damages from the government-controlled Zimpapers media group as matters appear to come to a head in the ruling Zanu PF party’s faction fights.
In papers filed at the Harare High Court on Monday, Kasukuwere is citing three reporters at The Herald, the paper’s editor Caesar Zvayi and his Sunday Mail colleague Mabasa Sasa.
The Zanu PF politburo member becomes the second minister to sue Zimpapers and its editors in recent days after higher education minister Jonathan Moyo also took legal action against the company.
Moyo claimed that the Zimpapers group was one of the State institutions “captured” by a faction coalescing around vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa as successor to President Robert Mugabe.
Kasukuwere and Moyo are linked to the rival G40 faction which is said to be determined to block a Mnangagwa coronation.
Describing himself as a businessman and a veteran of the Mozambique campaign, Kasukuwere says several articles published by the Zimpapers two titles since early September this year were false and defamatory.
The articles alleged corruption in the allocation of land and housing stands in and around Harare including claims that land meant for youths was irregularly sold to preacher Walter Magaya
Kasukuwere was also accused of giving stands to his younger brother “Tongai Kasukuwere and close associates such as legislators like Betty Kaseke and Shadreck Mashayamombe, among others”.
Through his lawyers, the minister says the “false and malicious allegations” were understood by readers to mean that he “is a corrupt cabinet minister who irregularly sold public land to Prophet Magaya for personal gain …
“That (he) is a nepotist who irregularly parceled out public land to his cronies and relatives; that he utilized public land to bribe people and is not fit to hold public office.”
The lawyers added: “And in relation to what has become known as the Blue Ocean Strategy the various defamatory articles against the Plaintiff are intended by the Defendants to have the following effect:
“In relation to succession politics within Zanu PF, to advance the political fortunes of the beneficiaries of the Blue Ocean Strategy to which the Defendants are an appendage.
“As a result of the defamatory articles, Plaintiff who is a Cabinet Minister, a member of parliament for Mount Darwin South constituency and a respected Political Commissar in Zanu PF has suffered damages to his reputation in the amount US$7m.”