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Hopewell Chin’ono Threatened With A US$50 000 Lawsuit

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Mr Hopewell Chin’ono
Email: hopewell2@post.harvard.edu
WhatsApp: +263778658680

Our client: Advocate Tinomudaishe Chinyoka

In the matter of: Your Publications on Social Media

We are instructed by Advocate Tinomudaishe Chinyoka.

The Claim
Our instructions are that you run a Twitter account under the handle @daddyhope. It is common cause that you have in excess of 180,000 followers on your handle.

On or around 29 April 2021 you published a Tweet on your handle which stated as follows:

When @advocatemahere, @JobSikhala1 & myself were arrested, the world saw what it means to have a degree & yet be empty.

ZanuPF sent it’s surrogates like Bright Matonga, Obert Gutu & Tino Chinyoka to defend the use of a law that doesn’t exist. It was ignorance & stomach politics. It is common cause that you have disseminated the story on your Twitter page, and that it has received a very high number of comments against our client..

After you made these comments about our client’s moral blame worthiness and unprofessional as well as disreputable conduct, many of your followers liked, retweeted and commented on the post, confirming your post and suggesting that our client was not just guilty of what you had stated but also corrupt conduct.

It is common cause that after Advocate Fadzai Mahere, Job Sikhala and yourself were arrested, Advocate Chinyoka published an article on nehandaradio.com headed: “Chinyoka on Tuesday: The appointing authority deserves better from the PG” which can be found at: https://nehandaradio.com/
2021/01/19/chinyoka-on-tuesday-the-appointing-authority-deserves-better-from-the-pg/ It is also common cause that in that article, Advocate Chinyoka criticized the Prosecutor General for charging you with any crime and argues that the charges against Advocate Fadzai Mahere, Job Sikhala and yourself are “non- crimes” and should not attract criminal sanction. At the time of publication of your tweet, this article had received in excess of 75,000 reads.

It is common cause that these statements, which are maintained and continued to be published on your handle, are inaccurate and/or false in that:-

(a) our client is not a surrogate of ZanuPF and while he has voted for and publicly expressed support for ZanuPF, has no official position in that particular political party that would give him the status of a surrogate at all;
(b) our client has not and would never be deployed by anyone to express an opinion but only ever expresses his own opinion.
(c) our client has never been deployed by ZanuPF to express any opinion and was certainly not deployed “to defend the use of a law that doesn’t exist”;
(d) you have stated and/or implied that our client is corrupt;
(e) you have stated and/or implied that our client, the holder of at least three degrees, is in fact of low (empty) intelligence and ignorant;
(f)you have stated and/or implied that our client is greedy and expresses his political opinions for financial gain;
(g) you have stated and/or implied without foundation that our client has shown conducted himself in a way that was unbecoming of a person in his position as a legal practitioner and respected advocate, that he uses his education and skills for financial gain without regard to what is right.

As our client’s position in the matter in question is well known, your tweet was completely false in so far as it pertained to our client. The only possible explanation for your publishing a tweet you knew to be false is that you were motivated by cowardly malice: perhaps calculating that as you have blocked our client from seeing your tweets, you would get the benefit of defaming him while he was not aware of the same.

You are well aware that our client is a legal practitioner practicing as an Advocate, as well as a qualified social worker and father, all of which are directly impacted by any suggestion that he is corrupt, greedy, ignorant, “empty”, or is otherwise unfit to be in the role that he occupies. The contents of your publication are false and defamatory of our client in that they impute, and were intended by yourselves to impute, and were understood by the persons to whom they were published to impute, that our client, though a legal practitioner practicing as an advocate, a social worker and a father working with the public, was corrupt, a person who sold his opinion to the highest bidder, an ignoramus and a corrupt person with no moral fibre and a person unfit to hold the office of a legal practitioner, who has been deployed by a political party to defend legally unsustainable and indefensible positions and therefore guilty of such unconscionable and despicable conduct unbecoming of an Advocate.

In particular, your publication:

(a) had the effect of lowering our client in the estimation of reasonable, ordinary persons generally;
(b) diminished our client’s esteem or standing in the eyes of ordinary members of the general public;
(c) has the potential of causing our client to be shunned or avoided by other potential and fellow legal practitioners on whom he relies for briefs his position as an Advocate;
(d) has exposed our client to hatred, ridicule or contempt;
(e) has cast aspersions on our client’s character, trade, business, and profession;
(f)has caused our client to lose his standing within the legal profession, the country and indeed the world.

Next steps

Our client is not against freedom of speech and recognizes the value of journalists in the development of our nascent democracy.  But, while our client believes that a free press is indispensable to democracy, and that there is a public interest in publishing stories about persons that place themselves in the public eye, no public interest is served when the subject matter is false, distorted and/or misleading.

Especially when full and comprehensive details about what is in fact the correct position are ignored.

At this stage neither we nor our client have any desire to issue legal proceedings against you and we are keen to do all we can to avoid litigation where possible. However, we will only desist from issuing legal proceedings provided upon receipt of this letter you agree to do the following:

• retweet your offending tweet with the statement “the inclusion of Tino
Chinyoka in this tweet was an error for which I apologize”;

• produce an apology by way of reply to the offending tweet and cause such apology and declaration to be published in each of the forums which have given or could give reason for our complaint (such apology to include the headline: “UPDATE: MY TWEET WAS WITHOUT MERIT, TINO CHINYOKA DID NOT SUPPORT OUR PROSECUTION AND IN FACT ARGUED THE OPPOSITE, CALING THE CHARGES AGAINST US A NON-CRIME. I APOLOGIZE”, which reply must be approved by us prior to publication;

• provide an undertaking that you will not make any further defamatory statements, as well as issue a public apology on your handle;

• provide details of the number of posts made outside of your website, together with website addresses;

• make proposals for the payment to our client of damages for the harm caused to our client’s reputation; and

• undertake to actively monitor and delete any newly published defamatory content on your website and social media platforms relating to our client.

If the defamatory tweet and threads are not permanently removed and the above undertakings are not complied with by 4.00pm on Monday 17 May 2021 we shall revert to our client with a view to recommending that he commences taking steps towards the swift issue of proceedings without further notice.

In this regard, we should point out that our client has, because of the defamation, been damaged in his reputation and has suffered damages (including aggravated and exemplary damages in view of the wilful refusal to confirm the facts and continued publication of false claims) which we estimate to be in the sum of USD50,000.00.

We draw to your attention the fact that you have the right to offer to make amends. We await your response by return. In the meantime we reserve our client’s rights, in particular the right to produce this letter to the Court when it comes to consider costs.

Yours faithfully

Gunje Legal Practice
Legal Practitioners

Robert Tapfumaneyi

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