The Director-General of the National Housing Corporation, Mr Nehemia Mchechu, has dragged The Citizen to the high court for defamation.
Mr Mchechu claims the Citizen, one of the leading Newspaper in Tanzania, has injured his reputation in Tanzania and international wise.
The case hearing began last Friday in Dar es Salaam, presided by Judge Leila Mgonya at Dar es Salaam Regional High Court. Mr Mchechu was presented by two advocates, Aliko Mwamanenge and Vitalis Peter.
Mchechu claimed on March 23, 2018, The Citizen released an article titled ‘Why JPM dissolved NHC Board, sacked Mchechu”.
“March 23 was a worse day for me. It was the day The Citizen had written about me with a clear intention of tainting my image to the public. They wanted me to be discredited by the community, to tell people I cannot be a leader anywhere” – Mchechu’s words as presented at the court by his lawyer, Vitalis Peter.
Mr Nehemia Mchechu, who President Samia Suluhu has reinstated to the NHC Director position, claims he was not by sacked the President, and he has never been sacked anywhere before. Thus, The Citizen’s article clearly intended to defame him.
“The Citizen released the article knowing the President did not sack me. The Citizen deliberately intended to demean me, my family, and set a bad image for me to the public,” – claims Nehemia.
On March 23, 2018, on page 4, The Citizen stated that Mchechu was under severe investigation by the NHC board and constant radars of PCCB for conflict interests following the purchasing of 500 hectares of land by NHC for Safari City houses project in Arusha.
Allegations against Mchechu
- The Citizen reported that the 500 hectares NHC bought for the Safari City housing project in Arusha were allegedly owned by Mr Mchechu’s company, which he later sold to NHC at a staggering amount.
- The same article claimed Mchechu used NHC’s contractor for the road construction to his personal property at Safari City and placed all costs for construction on NHC.
- According to The Citizen, Dubai’s firm PHILS International was awarded a tender for the construction of the Kawe project by Mchechu’s decree without involving the head of procurement, Mr Hamis Mpinda.
- According to The Citizen, the NHC board’s investigation and PCCB on Mchechu revealed that Mr Mchechu’s wife owns a company in which she’s the director, that through Mchechu’s influence and power in the corporation, he awarded it a tender to issue insurance service to NHC houses in Mtwara.
- The Citizen reported that Mchechu was sacked for misuse of public office, conflict of interests, adverse use of public funds, and significant losses that Mchechu has incurred.
- At the High Court in Dar es Salaam, Mchechu denied all allegations reported by The Citizen, insisting they were all lies with a clear intention to injure his reputation.
- Mchechu claims neither the NHC board nor PCCB has ever conducted any investigation on him.
- Mchechu denies to have owned land in Arusha that he sold to NHC, and neither does he own a company that sale lands.
- Mchechu also denied having meddled in any affairs on procurement processes when he was the head of NHC and never received any quarries from the department.
- Mchechu also denied allegations that his wife owns an insurance company that he awarded the tender. Mchechu said he had never done such a thing.
On behalf of Mchechu, his lawyers told the court that the allegations reported by The Citizen harmed his life. He lost his credibility with his business partners, which cost him millions.
“The Citizen’s article led me to depression and severe stress that entirely affected my health. The article led me to miss many opportunities in Tanzania and outside the country. Succinctly, it had affected my personal development.” – Said the lawyer on behalf of Mchechu.
Mchechu told the court that he had to resign some of his positions after The Citizen’s article. He, too, claimed he was close to being nominated for a job in a prominent international financial organization, Shelter Afrique. Unfortunately, he was cut after the article despite being the favourite candidate for the post.
For all damages that The Citizen has caused to his life, Mchechu demands TZS 3 Billion in compensation.