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Grain millers win takedown order against Matinyarare



THE High Court has granted a provisional order directing social media activist Rutendo Benson Matinyarare to pull down defamatory material against members of the Grain Millers’ Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) which he posted on the X platform.

Matinyarare has also been prohibited by the High Court from publishing any defamatory content against GMAZ members.

The order was issued on Thursday by High Court judge Samuel Gede.

 Matinyarare published defamatory articles using his X account, levelling allegations which GMAZ said are harmful to it and its members.

 He published on his X account a post titled “Innscor GMOs risks exposing Zimbabweans, Zambians, Kenyans & others to biological weapons”.

This was after the millers had announced their intention of importing 1.1 million tonnes of maize to augment government efforts to ensure the availability of maize-meal in the country.

Matinyarare published that the millers wanted to import genetically modified organism (GMO) maize which he said had side effects if consumed by humans.

Matinyarare published another post on his X account with one titled “Tafadzwa Musarara’s claim that GMOs don’t have side effects is not scientific”.

Tafadzwa Musarara is the chairperson of GMAZ. In a court action filed on Monday, GMAZ cited Mr Matinyarare and the National Biotechnology Authority of Zimbabwe as respondents.

GMAZ sought an interdict stopping Matinyarare from publishing any further content considered defamatory against its members, until the finalisation of the suit.  

 In its court papers, GMAZ said that Matinyarare’s social media posts remained available on – line to readers and anyone conducting research on the millers’ association would encounter the defamatory material.

“The harm, therefore, continues to be suffered by the applicant, if not urgently averted,” said GMAZ.

“There is also a real apprehension that first respondent at any moment may post further defamatory content to the extreme prejudice of the applicant members,” GMAZ said.

“Applicant’s members stand to suffer irreparable harm if urgent relief is not provided as defamation is usually more far-reaching than the redress and the longer the offending content remains online, the more likely that the harm suffered will increase by each day that the offending content remains available to members of the public and consumers of the products that are produced by Applicant’s members. Applicant has no other remedy than to approach this court for relief.”

GMAZ’s lawyer Simon Chivizhe told The NewsHawks after the ruling that: All the articles that he published were defamatory in that they made allegations against GMAZ members which were clearly plainly untrue and defamatory in that those articles that Matinyarare published sought to give the position that grain millers are selling poisonous food products to members of the public. Matinyarare also sought to intimate that GMAZ members are producing products that contain cancer-causing agents.

Matinyarare also sought to intimate that GMAZ members are under a mission to weaponise grain and food products to reduce the reproduction of black people in Zimbabwe which is really quite ridiculous and some sort of conspiracy theory which is not supported by any kind of empirical data or any kind of truth in them.

Matinyarare also sought to intimate that the products of GMAZ members are otherwise sub-standard and of low quality and he also sought to intimate that GMAZ members do not comply with laws governing food safety standards in the importation, manufacturing and production of food.

Matinyarare also sought to intimate that GMAZ members do not adhere to the applicable laws and regulations of Zimbabwe regarding the manufacturing of food products and he also sought to intimate that GMAZ profit from the misery of the Zimbabwean consumer.”

 Chivizhe said these statements were harmful given the El Niño-induced drought.

“It so happened that the court agreed with us and granted a provisional order against Matinyarare,” he said.

Recently, Innscor Africa obtained a takedown order against Matinyarare, after he had posted videos online accusing the company of “destroying the taste of Zimbabwean food” while also labelling company founder Mr Zinona ‘Zed’ Koudounaris a “Rhodie”.

The Johannesburg High Court ruled Matinyarare’s claims were “defamatory,” leaving him facing a damages claim from Innscor and Koudounaris, as well as a huge legal bill, in the event Innscor wins the case. — STAFF WRITER.

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