Mzembi de­mands US$100k from Big Time

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SOCIETY - Leisure Edi­tor

MISS Tourism Zim­babwe Trust and its pa­tron Bar­bara Mzembi have writ­ten to Big Time Strate­gic Group de­mand­ing US$100 000 for “dam­ages aris­ing out of the pub­li­ca­tion of an ar­ti­cle” that ap­peared in one of the daily pa­pers in July this year.

Reads part of the let­ter of de­mand: “We are in­structed to de­mand, as we hereby do, the sum of one hun­dred thou­sand United States dol­lars (US$100 000) as dam­ages for defama­tion ris­ing out of the pub­li­ca­tion of an ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled ‘Spon­sor dumps Miss Tourism for Miss World Zim’. . . ”.

Through their lawyers, Rubaya & Chatam­budza Le­gal Prac­ti­tion­ers, Mzembi and Miss Tourism Zim­babwe Trust gave Big Time Strate­gic Group seven days to “hon­our this de­mand”.

How­ever, Big Time Strate­gic Group through their le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives Mbidzo, Muchade­hama & Makoni, dis­missed the de­mand.

“Our client is not go­ing to pay to yours the amount of one hun­dred thou­sand United States dol­lars (US$100 000) as de­manded or any sum at all. Any ac­tion that yours might take against ours will be de­fended,” read the re­sponse.

The is­sue is now likely to be set­tled through the courts.

Big Time Strate­gic Group cor­po­rate affairs di­rec­tor Al­son Darikayi, who is al­leged to have ut­tered the defam­a­tory state­ments, con­firmed these devel­op­ments.

“In­deed, we have re­ceived com­mu­ni­ca­tion from lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Miss Tourism Zim­babwe Trust and Mrs Bar­bara Mzembi, first de­mand­ing a re­trac­tion of state­ments that ap­peared in a lo­cal news­pa­per and then de­mand­ing US$100 000.

“As Big Time Strate­gic Group, we know that this is meant to dis­tract us from fo­cus­ing on the big­ger pic­ture, which is that of launch­ing our com­pany here in Zim­babwe. We are ready to de­fend our­selves in the courts of law should it get to that,” said Darikayi.

Bar­bara Mzembi, who is the wife of Min­is­ter of Tourism and Hos­pi­tal­ity In­dus­try Wal­ter Mzembi, said she was an­gered by the al­le­ga­tion that she “mis­ap­pro­pri­ated funds” and thus had sought ways to clear her name and that of the Trust.

“We asked them to re­tract their state­ments but no one replied and then my lawyer said the only way to get their at­ten­tion would be to de­mand dam­ages. I only seek to pro­tect my name and that of the Trust.

“There was no mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds, we have the pa­per­work, even if we didn’t, with what proof did they make those al­le­ga­tions?” she said.

Mzembi said she would con­sult with her lawyers first be­fore de­cid­ing whether the is­sue should be set­tled by the courts.

Big Time Strate­gic Group and the Mzem­bis (Bar­bara and Wal­ter) have had a love-hate re­la­tion­ship since join­ing hands in 2016 to pro­duce one of the most glam­orous Miss Tourism Zim­babwe pageants in the his­tory of the event.

In June this year, Maphosa and all his com­pa­nies sev­ered ties with Miss Tourism Zim­babwe Trust.

Big Time Strate­gic Group im­me­di­ately went into bed with a ri­val pageant, Miss World Zim­babwe and also un­der­took to spon­sor the Harare In­ter­na­tional Car­ni­val, which came with nam­ing rights.

This cre­ated an­i­mos­ity, which sucked in Min­is­ter Mzembi and Zim­babwe Tourism Author­ity chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Dr Karikoga Kaseke. Dr Kaseke de­scribed the dis­pute as a per­sonal fight be­tween Min­is­ter Mzembi and Maphosa.

“The min­is­ter is bit­ter. He is fight­ing with Maphosa over the with­drawal of the spon­sor from Miss Tourism, which is run by the min­is­ter’s wife.”

Min­is­ter Mzembi with wife Bar­bra

Jus­tice Maphosa

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