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Mayor faces arrest in defamation case

(MISA/IFEX) - On 23 September 2010, Harare magistrate Olivia Mariga issued an arrest warrant against Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda after he failed to appear in court.

Masunda was expected in court in connection with a 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, "Standard" editor Nevanji Madanhire, reporters Feluna Nleya and Jennifer Dube and freelance journalist Stanley Gama, were questioned by the police and subsequently summoned as state witnesses following the publication of the alleged 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 next hearing in the case was 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 Harare's Land Sales, Leases and Exchanges from the period October 2004 to December 2009", the contents of which were published by the "Standard" and "The Sunday Times" of South Africa before it was debated by the full council.

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