MDC Alliance co-vice-president Tendai Biti and his party are being sued US$1 million after posting tweets recently claiming a construction company, Augur Investments was corrupt and insulting a Russian woman linked to the company.
In summons before the High Court, Augur Investments and Tatiana Aleshina, a Russian woman linked to the company, accuse Biti and the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa of using defamatory comments against the two plaintiffs.
Biti was arrested early this month after allegedly calling Aleshina an “idiot” and was dragged before a Harare magistrate. His case is still pending before the courts.
“The plaintiffs’ claim against the defendants is for judgment with costs against defendants’ joint and severally the one paying the other to be absolved for; (a) Payment in the sum of one million United States dollars being damages suffered by plaintiffs as a result of defamatory comments published by defendants on their respective Twitter accounts on or about 4 December 2020 and again by first defendant on 13 December 2020, which articles were per se defamatory of plaintiffs as set out in plaintiffs’ particulars of claim attached hereto,” the summons read.
Augur Investments and Aleshina also want Biti and the MDC Alliance to remove the offensive tweets.
“Defendants be and hereby ordered to remove the tweets posted by them on 4 December and 13 December 2020 relating to the first and second plaintiff, immediately upon service of the order of the court.
“Second defendant (MDC Alliance) be and is hereby ordered to print a retraction and apology to the plaintiff in three widely circulating newspapers in Zimbabwe within five days of service of the order of court on it,” the court application demands.
Biti and the MDC Alliance are yet to respond to the summons.
Commenting on the court application, government spokesperson Nick Mangwana wrote: “This fell on my desk and I just thought, politicians and political parties had a very wide berth to slander and defame people willy-nilly without consequences for long time. But the honeymoon is over comrades. Here, a political party and one of this leaders is made to account.”