By Professor Matodzi
Harare, January 22, 2014 – MDC-T secretary-general and former Finance Minister Tendai Biti says a $5 million defamation lawsuit brought against him by Didymus Mutasa, the Zanu PF secretary for administration is awkward and vague.
Mutasa, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in the Office of the President and Cabinet filed the $5 million defamation lawsuit for damages against Biti last year following claims during a stormy cabinet session during the tenure of the coalition government which degenerated into a naming and shaming session that the former Finance Minister fingered the Zanu PF politburo member for plotting the arson attack on Christpowers Maisiri, the son of an MDC-T official.
In court papers filed in the High Court, Mutasa claimed that Biti impaired his character after he told a cabinet meeting held last February and attended by the entire cabinet members including President Robert Mugabe that the former liberation fighter was responsible for masterminding the death of the 12 year-old Headlands boy, who was burnt in his parents’ house in Headlands.
Mutasa said Biti also repeated the same statement outside of cabinet and to the media and during the burial of Christpowers implicating him in the murder of the young boy.
The Zanu PF secretary for administration said Biti’s statements injured his “good name” as he is internationally known and has an unimpeached character.
But in response to Mutasa’s lawsuit, Biti denied uttering such statements and said Mutasa’s claim is “vague, embarrassing and does not disclose the commission of an offence.”
“Defendant denies doing anything or uttering any statement which diminished the plaintiff’s professional reputation and good character and plaintiff is put to the strict proof of his claims,” reads part of Biti’s response to Mutasa’s legal action.
Biti has engaged feisty and award winning human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa of Mtetwa and Nyambirai Legal Practitioners to defend himself while Mutasa is represented by Gerald Mlotshwa of GN Mlotshwa and Company Legal Practitioners.
Christpower’s death shattered the country’s false sense of security ahead of the July elections which was won by President Robert Mugabe, whose win was described as a monumental fraud by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.