CONFIDENTIAL documents, which include Zanu PF politburo minutes, have emerged as the contested centre piece of evidence in the case in which former Inf
ormation minister Jonathan Moyo is suing two senior Zanu PF officials for defamation.
This is the first time confidential Zanu PF documents have been used as evidence in court. It is also the first time that a party member has testified against their incumbent chairman and other senior officials.
The documents have set the parameters of the battlefield and both set of lawyers are fighting over them to gain an upper hand in the matter which has been playing in the Bulawayo High Court for two weeks.
For the better part of the 10 days allocated for the case by the presiding judge, Justice Francis Bere, proceedings revolved around the three confidential party documents.
Moyo is suing Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo and politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa for $2 billion each for alleged defamation after accusing them of telling a party meeting in Tsholotsho that he plotted a coup to topple President Mugabe from power in 2004.
The two politicians deny ever making the remarks.
The first document produced in court contained minutes of a politburo meeting held on November 30 2004 at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare. Defence lawyer Francis Chirimuuta quoted statements attributed to Mugabe in the minutes in a bid to prove that the Tsholotsho meeting was illegal.
Moyo reacted under cross examination from Chirimuuta, saying the politburo minutes were not a true record of what had transpired at the meeting because they were not signed and seconded by anyone.
Moyo further said Mugabe’s statements were not helpful because they were made by an interested party who was vying for a party position at the time.
There were also minutes of a Zanu PF central committee meeting held on December 1 2004 to ratify the amendment to the party constitution to insert the clause that one of the two ruling party second secretaries and vice-presidents should be a woman.
The defence counsel produced the central committee minutes to prove that the manner in which the woman candidate issue was ratified was constitutional. However, Moyo refuted the minutes saying the process was unconstitutional.
“The president is not the constitution and in any case these minutes were not availed to me since they were released just before the meeting which followed that I did not attend. Minutes do not capture everything that will be under discussion in any meeting,” Moyo said.
Witnesses who attended the January 12 2005 Tsholotsho meeting where Nkomo and Dabengwa allegedly made the defamatory statements against Moyo said they were surprised that there were any minutes at all.
“During the meeting you are referring to there was no one taking notes because there was a lot of commotion and I am shocked that there are minutes for this meeting,” said Virginia Ndlovu, one of the witnesses under cross-examination from Chirimuuta.
Moyo fought a battle of wits in court with Chirimuuta as the contest rose to a climax.
“Your honour, the first defendant (Nkomo) says, according to the minutes recorded, he called the meeting because he was a Tsholotsho homeboy but he is not disclosing his real concern was events at Dinyane (where the alleged plot to oust Mugabe was hatched),” Moyo said.
Chirimuuta contested Moyo’s remarks, citing a paragraph in the minutes to show that the Zanu PF district coordinating committee meeting called on January 12 2005 was indeed a post-mortem of the Dinyane meeting.
At one stage another witness, Jerome Ndlovu, angrily retorted that he had nothing to do with the minutes since he was in court to testify about what he saw.