Member of Parliament for Tati East Guma Moyo is suing his Gaborone North counterpart Haskins Nkaigwa for P2 million in damages for defamation, it a case believed to be a “proxy war” for the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) power struggle between Sidney Pilane and Ndaba Gaolatlhe.
Guma has indicated that he will be represented by Advocate Sidney Pilane who is expected to challenge BDP President Ndaba Gaolatlhe for the BMD leadership.
Moyo and Pilane are close friends from their days at the Botswana Movement for Democracy. Moyo was among a few BMD leaders who backed Pilane’s presidential bid against the late Gomolemo Motswaledi.
Nkaigwa on the other hand is on the rival faction that supports Gaolatlhe presidency of the BMD. Until recently Nkaigwa was friends with a number of BMD NEC members who are rooting for Pilane. Nkaigwa has however broken ranks with the group in what descended into a nasty public spat.
If successful, Moyo’s defamation suit would be the highest defamation award ever made by Botswana courts. It will also be the first Facebook defamation case to be heard by local courts.
Moyo’s lawyers, Ramalepa Attorneys last week slapped Nkaigwa with a letter of demand.
The letter states that on or about 22nd April 2016 Nkagiwa unlawfully and wrongfully published or caused to be published through his Face book account, in “ALL PARTIES CONFERENCE” face book group /page a defamatory statement in reference to Moyo.
The defamatory statement in question is said to have included the following words:
“Guma can only cheat those who don’t know him, jang dijo betsho, le madi lea tsee le dino le dinwe. Madi a bogodu a tshwanetse go jewa akere ga a huhulelwa.”
Moyo’s lawyers said the statement was understood to mean that Moyo is a dishonest and corrupt public figure and politician who steals public funds for use in personal political campaigns.
“The publication of the said statement was made with intention to humiliate, degrade or impair the dignity, self esteem and reputation of our client; the publication of the defamatory aforesaid was an aggression upon client’s personality rights, dignity, self esteem and reputations a result of which he was aggrieved,” the letter addressed to Nkagiwa reads.
Moyo’s lawyers claim that as a result of the publication of the said defamatory statement Moyo suffered damages to his good name and reputation and demands compensation in the sum of P 1, 500, 000, 00.
The letter further demand compensation on injury to Moyo personality rights, dignity and self esteem and demand compensation in the sum of P500,000,00.
Furthermore the letter demand that MP Nkagiwa pay the sum of P6 000.00 as legal costs.
“We hold instructions to demand as we hereby do, that you pay the aforesaid total sum of P 2, 006, 000, 00 at our office being Ramalepa Attorneys, within 14 calendar days from the date of delivery,” the letter reads.
Should Nkagiwa fail to make payment of P2, 006,000.00 in the stipulated time Moyo lawyers will brief Advocate Pilane to issue summons against Nkagiwa for the recovery of the damages including punitive damages and legal costs on attorney own client scale.