High Court dismisses CIO application on ZimInd story

 HIGH Court judge Lavender Makoni last week dismissed an urgent chamber application filed by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to stop the Zimbabwe Independent from publishing a story disclosing details relating to the spy agency’s boss, Happyton Bonyongwe.

Makoni dismissed the application before the Independent had filed its opposing papers. 
The CIO last week obtained the article before the paper had published it.
The Independent has since suspended its senior reporter, Augustine Mukaro, to facilitate investigations into how the article ended up with the intelligence service after it appeared to have been sent from his e-mail.
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists whose e-mail address was included in an annexure to the CIO’s court papers, is assisting with the investigations.
The High Court judge said she could not hear the matter because it was not urgent as the article involved had been previously published.
“The matter is not urgent …the article has been previously published on ZimOnline.  If there was serious public alarm and despondency it would have occurred already,” she said.
There have been several stories concerning Bonyongwe in recent weeks including in the Herald where he pledged allegiance to President Mugabe and distanced himself from the Simba Makoni camp.
In dismissing the application, Makoni said Bonyongwe had other remedies available to him if the article was published and did not reflect the proper position.
She said the papers which were filed by the CIO did not establish serious alarm and despondency, as it claimed, for the matter to be heard on an urgent basis.
CIO lawyer Robson Chihota of Chihota & Associates said since his urgent application had been dismissed he was going to file an ordinary court application to gag the Independent. The CIO yesterday duly kept the case alive by filing the court application to interdict the paper from releasing details of the article.
Chihota yesterday wrote to the editor of the Independent threatening “criminal prosecution and/or civil damages” if the paper went ahead and published the story.
In an application filed yesterday, CIO Deputy Director-General Mernard Muzariri in a supporting affidavit to the suit said: “I restate that there is no, and has never been any acrimony, bad blood, power struggles and any misunderstanding of whatever nature between myself and the director general…”.
However, the Independent is still planning to publish its story despite continued CIO efforts to block it.
Bonyongwe through Chihota last week claimed the story could not be published as it contained information which threatened state security. “Publication of a detailed version would cause irreversible harm, loss of cohesion, alarm and despondency, indiscipline and multiplicity of adverse consequences, which have the potential of militating against the operation and effectiveness of the security organisation,” said Chihota in the urgent chamber application that was dismissed. ”I can state positively that there has never been any fallout between the CIO director-general and the president,” Bonyongwe said in his affidavit. 

By Lucia Makamure