POLICY Implementation minister Webster Shamu who sued the Zimbabwe Independent for $500 million for reporting that his 2005 parliamentary election campaig
n was bankrolled by white farmers has withdrawn the lawsuit.
The withdrawal comes after Shamu’s lawyers, Vasco Shamu and Associates, failed to produce the minister’s election campaign accounts as requested by Independent lawyer, Linda Cook.
“With regard to your request to see our client’s accounts pertaining to the previous parliamentary election, we advise that our client does not have such accounts,” Shamu’s lawyers wrote on July 5.
“These matters were dealt with by his chief election agent and completed long ago. In any event, we do not see why you wish to have them as we take the view, on reflection, that they are irrelevant to the present proceedings.”
In response, Cook demanded that Shamu’s agent produce the accounts as they were public records. “With respect, we are astonished by your advice to the effect that the plaintiff cannot produce his records of funds received for his election campaign and his accounts because his chief election agent has them,” Cook replied to Shamu’s lawyers on July 27.
“With respect, the law is clear on this point. Documents in the possession of your client’s agents are to be produced. Furthermore, and in any event, your client has a statutory obligation to keep such records.”
However, earlier this month Shamu’s lawyers wrote to Cook advising her of their intention to withdraw the suit saying in the next High Court term Shamu will be busy with the 2008 election campaign.
“During the next High Court term, our client will be involved in the impending elections in 2008, and he will not have enough time to attend to this matter. His instructions to us, at this stage, are that he would be happy, on a completely without prejudice basis, to withdraw his suit on condition that each party pays its own costs.”
Cook said there was no reason for Shamu to be disappointed that the case had not been given a trial date as the case had been set down for trial since 2006.
“I should add that to say that Shamu is disappointed that the case has not been set down for trial is nonsense. The case has been set down for trial on several occasions by Mr Justice Patel, going back to 2006,”said Cook.
The Independent edition of July 29 2005 carried a story headlined “Zanu PF chefs exposed” in which it was reported that Shamu’s election campaign for the Chegutu constituency was bankrolled by white commercial farmers.