Mayor faces arrest in defamation case

masunda_muchadeyiHarare magistrate Olivia Mariga on 23 September 2010, issued out a warrant of arrest against Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda (Pictured) after he failed to appear in court.

Masunda was expected in court in connection with the case in which he and eight councillors stand accused of criminally defaming businessman Philip Chiyangwa.

Five journalists were subpoenaed as state witnesses in the case. The journalists, Vincent Kahiya the Zimbabwe Independent editor- in- chief, the Standard editor Nevanji Madanhire and reporters Feluna Nleya, Jennifer Dube and freelance journalist Stanley Gama were questioned by the police and subsequently summoned as state witnesses following the publication of the allegedly offending story.

The charge arises from the alleged leakage of a report linking Minister of Local Government Ignatius Chombo and Chiyangwa to an alleged municipal land scam by the council. The case was further postponed to 2 November 2010.

Background

The state alleges that the mayor and the councillors defamed Chiyangwa by leaking a 54-page report titled: Special Investigations Committees report on City of Harares Land Sales, Leases and Exchanges from the period October 2004 to December 2009, whose contents were published by the Standard and The Sunday Times of South Africa before it was debated by the full council.

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