UNDER FIRE MUTODI DISOWNS FACEBOOK | Businessman Energy Mutodi has disowned the Facebook page on which two Cabinet ministers—Dr Sydney Sekeramayi and Dr David Parirenyatwa—were accused of poisoning Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa saying someone could have mischievously abused his name and picture to open the account.
Opposing the duo’s $40 000 defamation lawsuit, Mr Mutodi said he had nothing to do with the Facebook page in question although it bore his name and pictures.
Dr Sekeramayi, who is Minister of Defence, and Dr Parirenyatwa, who is responsible for the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, are claiming $20 000 each from Mr Mutodi over statements posted on the Facebook page insinuating they were behind the alleged food poisoning.
Mr Mutodi, through his lawyer Mr Charles Chinyama of Chinyama & Partners, denied ever posting statements defamatory to the two ministers.“It is denied that the defendant operates a Facebook page under the name ‘Energy Mutodi’. It is denied that such a Facebook page can be ascribed to the defendant neither was it opened at the instance of the defendant who denies any links with it.
It could be that some other person(s) unknown to the defendant have opened such a page using the defendant’s name and photograph,” reads the defendant’s plea. Mutodi’s lawyers said their client was not in a position to comment on the truthfulness or otherwise of the statements complained of adding that it was up to the two ministers and the alleged victim, VP Mnangagwa, to prove.
“He knows not whether the contents of such an article are true or false and only the first and second plaintiffs and the alleged victim of poisoning are in a position to shade light on the truthfulness or otherwise of the article,” argued Mr Mutodi. Mr Mutodi said the two ministers should, instead, sue Facebook and the news websites that published the document deemed defamatory.
In the summons, the two ministers accused Mr Mutodi of posting on his Facebook page an article titled “Two ministers top suspects in ED poison case”, which circulated countrywide and beyond the borders. The article, according to the ministers, put them in bad light as it insinuated that they gave VP Mnangagwa samoosas, sandwiches and grapes that were laced with poison.
The food, according to the online report, came from Minister Sekeramayi’s home. Through their lawyers Machingura Legal Practitioners, the two ministers sued Mr Mutodi for defamation.
According to the plaintiffs’ declaration, the meaning and implications of the article were false and wrongful with an effect of portraying the two as murderers as opposed to medical doctors who should be saving lives. The two stated in the declaration that the post falsely and wrongly made people to think that they conspired to poison the VP and that the poisoning was premeditated as the food came from Minister Sekeramayi’s home.
The duo also argued that the article damaged their reputation as it insinuated that they abused their specialist knowledge and expertise as medical doctors to pick a convenient poison to harm the VP.
It was also stated in the declaration that the article wrongly insinuated that the two ministers “conspired to fabricate false allegations that the Honourable VP had been poisoned at a rally by ice cream from Gushungo Dairy and further that plaintiffs made these false allegations to conceal and cover up their plot”.
The lawyers said: “The post was made and published with intention to defame plaintiffs and to injure their respective reputations. As a result of the defamation, plaintiffs have been individually damaged in their reputation and have respectively suffered damages in the sum of $20 000 each.”
The lawyers indicated that the ministers have tried to recover the damages outside court with no success, hence the institution of the court action. The pair is seeking an order for payment of damages with costs.