By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
12 May 2014
Australian-based ZANU PF writer Reason Wafawarova could be forced to pay as much as $200,000 in damages for claiming that a former Zimbabwean envoy to that country stripped in front of embassy staff.
Former ambassador Jacqueline Zvambila filed for a lawsuit in 2011, claiming that Wafawarova defamed her when he published the article in the Zimbabwean state media in 2010. Zvambila said the article had followed her everywhere and that her name had been stigmatised while dignity had been taken away from the country.
The Supreme Court in Australia struck out Wafawarova’s defence in December after he failed to provide relevant documents and after he breached other court orders. That decision paved the way for the April costs hearing, during which Wafawarova attempted to stop the lawsuit from going ahead.
During that hearing Zvambila’s lawyers submitted before the court that Wafawarova was liable to pay between $175,000 and $200,000 in damages, including costs. According to the Canberra Times newspaper, a judge then reserved the decision on the amount to be paid to Zvambila, who is also claiming asylum in Australia.
Wafawarova had unsuccessfully sought to have the matter postponed, arguing that his main witnesses, Zimbabwean diplomats formerly based at the Embassy, had since been redeployed and his request for their appearance had been refused by their government. Wafawarova further argued that since the claims were published in Zimbabwe and the allegations against Zvambila took place at a diplomatic residence during work hours, the court had no jurisdiction over the matter.
Zimbabwe Vigil’s Dennis Benton said the development shows that ZANU PF lackeys cannot get away with criminal libel as they do in Zimbabwe. He said: ‘The Australian courts are not going to be swayed by the fact that Wafawarova is ZANU PF.’
Benton said Wafawarova was not the only ZANU PF lackey causing problems for people while living in the West. He said in the UK there were many such people and they were using their presence in the West to promote the ZANU PF government’s values.
According to sources Wafawarova moved to Australia following his wife who had been hired as a nurse there. From Sydney, where he stays, Wafawarova regularly pontificates about President Mugabe being an exemplary African icon.
He also routinely takes pot-shots at Mugabe’s critics, often making unsubstantiated claims about anyone. To this date Wafawarova has not apologized for the article about Zvambila, claiming that he was not the author.
A few months ago Wafawora clashed with the Zimbabwe Independent Editor Dumisani Muleya over his claims about the funders of that paper.
Wafawarova previously worked for the ZANU PF Youth League department in Harare. According to his CV Wafawarova studied at the University of Zimbabwe and the University of Macquarie in Australia.