Grace Mugabe, the wife of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, filed a $15 million lawsuit against the weekly Standard newspaper over the newspaper’s publication of WikiLeaks cables, Reuters reported.
iMediaEthics previously wrote about Mugabe when a blogger, Akanyang, criticized South African newspaper, the Sunday Times, over its October story alleging that Grace Mugabe was having an affair with Central Reserve Bank president Gideon Gono. The story also alleged that president, Robert Mugabe had a bodyguard killed after the bodyguard overheard Grace Mugabe’s sister telling Robert Mugabe about the affair.
Thabo Leshilo, the public editor for Avusa, the Sunday Times’ parent company, told iMediaEthics that he received no complaints from the Mugabes over the story.
However, this WikiLeaks story about Mugabe quickly prompted a very public lawsuit.
The WikiLeaks cables allegedly reveal that Mugabe’s wife (and others “close to Mugabe” — including Gono) “have been exacting tremendous profits” from a Zimbabwean mine. According to Reuters, the claims assert Mugabe “was involved in illicit diamond trading” of blood diamonds.
Grace Mugabe called the story “false and malicious.”
“This is an imputation of criminality and association with violations of human rights. Whatever it (the Standard) prints is regarded as gospel truth by those people in Zimbabwe and abroad,” she reportedly stated in the lawsuit.
The Standard’s CEO, Raphael Khumalo, confirmed that “court documents were served by lawyers,” The Independent reported.
SW Radio Africa reported that the 2008 cable, by former U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee stated
“High-ranking Zimbabwean government officials and well-connected elites are generating millions of dollars in personal income by hiring teams of diggers to hand-extract diamonds.”
McGee also reportedly cited African Consolidated Resources CEO Andrew Cranswick who implicated Mugabe, Gono, Vice President Joyce Mujuru and General Constantine Chiwenga.
SW Radio Africa countered Mugabe’s claims that she “is well regarded internationally,” though, saying that her claims “were immediately ridiculed by ordinary Zimbabweans.”
As SW Radio explained:
“They have long nicknamed her ‘DisGrace’ over her lavish and extravagant lifestyle, dominated by endless shopping trips to the Far East and Asia. Instead of First Lady she is usually referred to as ‘The First Shopper’. She also showed her violent streak in January 2009 when she assaulted a Sunday Times photographer, while on a visit to Hong Kong.”