13 October 1998


Minister threatens paper with legal action

Incident details

legal action

(MISA/IFEX) - The Deputy Minister for Communications and Transport, Maua
Daftari, has threatened to take the "Guardian" newspaper to court unless it
recants an allegedly defamatory story about her which was published in its
28 September 1998 edition. The independent daily newspaper "The African"
reported on 10 October that Daftari's lawyers, the Tanzania Legal
Corporation (TLC), had written to the "Guardian" editor and the reporter who
wrote the story demanding an apology and a retraction within seven days from
7 October.

In its letter, the TLC indicated that any apology by the newspaper should be
approved by their client before publication and that it should be published
on the same page and position as the contentious article. The article was
published in the paper under the headline: "Deputy Minister Maua denies she
swindled a friend 300 million Tanzania Shillings."

In the letter sent to the newspaper, the minister's law firm wrote: "The
above publication, in its natural and ordinary meaning , and understood by
the right thinking ordinary members of the society, local and international,
carries a highly defamatory message directly and by innuendo."

The TLC argues further that the "Guardian" story depicted their client as "a
swindler and con-woman of the highest order unfit to hold any public office;
a habitual criminal fit only to be behind bars; an embarrassment to the
government as a holder of such a high office (and) untrustworthy in the eyes
of the general public and her family." The letter further claimed that the
newspaper story defamed the deputy minister because it was false, malicious
and defamatory.

"Our further instructions are to warn you that should you fail to comply
with this demand [to publish an apology or retraction] within the prescribed
time limit, stern legal action shall be taken against you without further
notice," read the TLC letter in part.


Media Institute of Southern Africa
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Private Bag 13386
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Fax:+264 61 248016
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