Fadzayi Mahere

Mahere US$1m defamation lawsuit postponed

THE High Court has postponed to the next legal term the case in which Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) interim spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere, a lawyer, is suing fellow legal mind Petina Gappah for US$1 million for defamation.

Gappah is alleged to have made a number of accusations against Mahere on twitter on September 29 last year.

The accusations included that Mahere did not qualify to study at the University of Zimbabwe for her first degree, but was only admitted allegedly because of the influence of her father Stephen Mahere, a former Education ministry permanent secretary.

Gappah allegedly further stated that she had to almost rewrite Fadzayi’s essay to get admission to Cambridge University. She allegedly accused Fadzayi of attempting to sleep with her father.

Gappah’s lawyer Nqobile Munzara of Titan Law applied for postponement of the matter that was pencilled for hearing yesterday with the defence making its submissions.

Munzara submitted that the counsel entrusted with making the submissions, Tinomudaishe Chinyoka, was away in South Africa for medical treatment. She sought the matter to be postponed to next term.

  “The pool of advocates is shallow because any other advocate would be reluctant to litigate against the plaintiff representing the defendant on such a personal matter in which she is claiming that her reputation has been damaged to the extent of justifying damages of US$1 million.

“My Lord there’s been many inferences regarding the defendant’s representation in some of the tweets that we included in the defendant’s bundle that cast a disparaging eye on the conduct of the firm for which I work, it will be difficult to find an advocate who would want to associate themselves with those disparaging remarks and put up a strong defence on behalf of the defendant,” Munzara submitted.

Fadzayi, through her attorney, Nokuthula Moyo of Coghlan, Welsh and Guest, opposed the application.

Moyo averred that Chinyoka is yet to make any direct contributions on the matter.

“The point is that advocate Chinyoka has not in fact been involved in this matter…he does not appear on the records of this matter at all which would mean if he could set in so belatedly in the matter so could another advocate stand in especially if it was known at the stage that the matter was set down that he would be away,” Moyo submitted.

“The defendant should then have sought the services of somebody available. There would be no prejudice to the defendant if she were to consult another advocate because this particular advocate has really not been involved in the matter at this stage and any other advocate can pick the matter just as he did and the matter proceeds so his absence should not delay the trial of this matter.”

However, High Court Justice Joseph Mafusire ruled that the defendant had a right to fair representation by the counsel of her choice.

“Having considered all the submissions that have been made and the intimations that were made by the defendant earlier on that the postponement sought and I reluctantly grant the postponement so that no accusations or complaints are raised later that the defendant was impeded in the conduct of the case,” ruled Justice Mafusire.

“I understand the point that postponements really are a nightmare of the courts because they interfere with the programme of the administration of justice…if a matter is postponed for whatever reason the same process has to be undertaken before the trial or proceedings connects which causes lots of not only inconvenience but pain on the presiding judge.

“Generally postponements are not welcome to any court. However, for practical purposes it seems to me that the best course for today is to postpone this matter to a first available slot for trials in the next term 2022. Therefore the matter shall be postponed to next term at a date available.”