A Harare doctor Lenon Gwaunza has been sued for US$100 000 after he allegedly defamed a specialist doctor Andrew Mataruse on social media questioning his professional qualifications.
Gwaunza is alleged to have written a letter to the Registrar of the Medical and Dental Profession Council casting doubt on doctor Mataruse’s qualifications during the time he supervised him allegedly claiming he had dubious qualifications.
The council has since cleared Mataruse, finding no basis in the allegations raised by Gwaunza, stating “Regarding the allegations of dubious qualifications, be advised that your qualifications were duly assessed by Council through the Education and Liaison Committee of Council which approved the qualifications as recognized additional qualifications that warrant specialist registration as a Neurologist.”
Mataruse through his lawyer Admire Rubaya has written a letter of demand for Mataruse to withdraw his statements and pay damages for the injury to his professional reputation suffered as a result of the alleged statements.
“Our client advises us that on or about 8 July, 2021 you wrote a letter to the Registrar of the Medical and Dental Profession Council of Zimbabwe (herein after called “the MDPCZ”) wherein you questioned our client’s neurology qualifications and called them dubious.
“We are further advised that you made serious allegations that our client is an imposter who was misrepresenting, to the generality of patients and colleagues in the medical fraternity, that he is a Neurologist.
“In essence, you maliciously and falsely claimed that our client is a fraudster in circumstances where you knew very well that our client is adequately qualified to be called a neurologist.
“The above statements are not only defamatory and untrue but same are very malicious,” the letter reads.
Mataruse claims Gwaunza soiled his practice among other professionals which has affected his client base and he is on the verge of losing lucrative contracts.
He said the Twitter posts by Gwaunza had far reaching consequences over their wide reach with huge losses.
“Further, you have reiterated your defamatory remarks through your Twitter handle, @lgwaunza, in particular, on 20th August, 2021 wherein you seriously quizzed our client’s qualifications and demeaned his ability to practice as a neurologist.
“The widely published tweets that you posted have global reach and they have seriously damaged his major asset which is goodwill and trading brand. Put differently, the publications of the various statements which you made about questionable medical qualifications are malicious and injurious.
“Our client’s reputation has been severely damaged which has consequently had a negative impact on his cliental base. As you are obviously aware, as a specialist in Zimbabwe, our client relies on referrals from fellow colleagues and other medical professionals all of which is hinged on good and reliable reputation. Our client has the real tisk of incurting quantifiable financial losses.
“Our client advises us that he is now on the verge of losing many lucrative contracts as the various publications have cast him in a bad light,” the letter reads.
Mataruse is a specialist doctor with qualifications from several reputable institutions and believes Gwaunza was malicious in his allegations.
“Our client holds additional qualification in Master of Science Clinical Neurology from the University College of London (UCL) in 2017 and that qualification is duly registered with the MDPCZ. As you should be obviously aware, University College of London, which operates as “UCL”, is a major public research university located in London, United Kingdom;
“Our client attained an additional qualification of Specialist Certificate Neurology from the Royal College of Physicians (UK) in 2019 which qualification is registered with the MDPCZ; and
“Dr. Mataruse further attained an additional qualification of Fellow of European Board of Neurology from the European Board of Neurology (EBN) in July 2021 and these were submitted for registration with MDPCZ.
“It is our client’s considered view that you knew very well or ought to have known that these qualifications were not dished out at a political rally but were awarded to him on merit from reputable Universities and Examination Boards after our client had completed a rigorous examination process,” the letter read.
“. . .our instructions are to demand, as we hereby do, the publication of a full, unconditional and unreserved withdrawal of these defamatory statements and the related imputations together with an expression of – regret on the same within forty eight (48) hours of receiving this letter as well as a letter of regret to the MDPCZ Council withdrawing all the allegations you have raised against him.
“Additionally, our client demands the payment of US$100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand United States of American Dollars) as damages for defamation within five (5) days of this letter. In the event that you fail to retract the defamatory statements and pay the sum of US$100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand United States of American Dollars), as demanded, our client shall proceed to issue Summons and claim damages for defamation without any further notice to you,” his lawyer wrote.