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Tsvangirai Threatens to Sue Herald, ZBC Over Illness Reports

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, told a news conference in Harare that it is not true that that the former trade unionist left the hospital without paying his bills. (File Photo: Reuters)
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) founding president Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday threatened to take legal action against the state-controlled Herald newspaper and the country’s sole broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, over the two media houses’ reports on his health.

The Herald newspaper on Thursday carried a front-page story alleging that Tsvangirai sneaked out of a Harare private hospital Wednesday without settling his medical bills amounting to $2,600. The ZBC also ran several news bulletins regarding the former premier’s health condition.

The newspaper also carried images of the former premier allegedly leaving the medical centre barefoot and in hospital robes. But some computer experts said the pictures were photoshoped.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, told a news conference in Harare that it is not true that that the former trade unionist left the hospital without paying his bills.

Tamborinyoka said the former premier paid his bill, amounting to $4,376 in full, adding the Zanu PF government is trying to tarnish Tsvangirai’s image.

Tamborinyoka said his boss is now planning to sue The Herald and ZBC.

When Studio 7 visited the medical facility where Tsvangirai was being treated, several nurses claimed that some police officers led by Chief Superintendent Crispen Makedenge of the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Law and Order Section had earlier arrived at the hospital where they forcibly took Tsvangirai’s medical records in violation of the doctor-patient confidentiality rules.

While police spokesman Charity Charamba could not be reached for comment, Tamborinyoka criticized the police action.

Tamborinyoka said the former prime minister had been ordered to rest by his doctors after being treated for exhaustion while the Herald claimed that Tsvangirai was treated for suspected poisoning.

The MDC-T leader has in the last few months been holding rallies with his supporters in the countryside following last year’s elections that he says were rigged by President Mugabe and his Zanu party.

The number of meetings also increased following internal squabbles in the MDC-T party. He, however, has failed to address two rallies, including his party’s Africa Day event in Highfield last week, raising speculation about his health.

Meanwhile, the MDC-T shadow minister for industry and commerce, Tapiwa Mashakada, told a news conference Thursday that proposals by the cash-strapped government to review the indigenization policy would not lure investors into the country.

Mashakada said his party’s assessment of the proposed production sharing model shows the government would have 100 percent shareholding in companies yet it intends to share profits with investors who would have seeded their money into the country’s economy.

The acting MDC secretary general said many projects in sectors such as agriculture, mining, tourism and manufacturing, approved by the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, have not been implemented in the last five years due to investor fears created by the indigenization policy.

The MDC says the policy shift showed that the Zanu PF government is running short of ideas to revive the country’s ailing economy that has been characterized by a severe liquidity crunch.

Studio 7 failed to get a comment from Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo.