A medical doctor, Dr Beck Banda, has denied defaming World Vision Zambia Limited in the Lusaka High Court and filed a counterclaim, seeking an order of injunction to restrain the organisation from using the “SMAGs model” that he claims is essentially identical to his.

This is a matter in which World Vision Zambia has sued Dr Banda, seeking damages for defamation after he accused the organisation of infringing on his copyright in the Safe Motherhood Action Groups (SMAGs) model.

Dr Beck Banda is alleged to have given an interview to the Daily Nation on November 22, 2018 and QTV in December last year, where he alleged that World Vision Zambia had infringed his copyright in the SMAGs Model.

World Vision is claiming damages for slander and libel, aggravated damages, an injunction to restrain Dr Banda from further publishing or causing to be published the said or any similar defamatory words, costs and any other relief the court may deem fit.

But in a defence filed in court, Dr Banda stated that he was the author and owner of the copyright in the SMAGs model expressed around 2002 and would aver at trial that the words complained of by World Vision were true in substance and fact, adding that he was pleading the defence of justification.

He claimed that despite him being the copyright holder of the SMAGs concept, World Vision had persisted in infringing on his concept by employing it in its programmes which were essentially identical to his model without his licence or express permission.

Dr Banda stated that by letters dated April 18, 2018 and May 23, 2018, he and his lawyers sufficiently and clearly explained to World Vision when and how he acquired the copyright in 2002.

He however, stated that World Vision had continued to infringe on his concept by publishing on the online media, as well as, Twitter and YouTube social media reports, claiming that they owned the model.

“In the circumstances, the plaintiff is not entitled to any of the reliefs,” Dr Banda said.

And in his counterclaim, Dr Banda stated that around 2002, he innovated SMAGs.

He added that he thereafter expressed original artistic work on Post-Drama Community Action Group which produced the first ever SMG model in Chawama township through his Youth Cultural Promotion Association (YOCUPA) Theatre for Community Action with the financial support from JHPIEGO/MNH/USAID and the Zambia Chapter of White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (ZWRASM) .

Dr Banda stated that among the representatives of the cooperating partners who witnessed the birth of the first ever SMAGs model included Dr Rick Hughes who was the director of JHPIEGO/MNH Zambia and community volunteers.

He stated that following the formation of the first SMAGs in Chawama, further SMAGs groups were formed at Chipata health Centre and other places.

Dr Banda added that around 2002, the theatre community sensitization strategy by YOCUPA was adopted by the UNFPA as core strategy for SMAGs formation in North Western Province following the rapid rural appraisal results.

He stated that around 2008, UNFPA without his express permission introduced SMAGs to the Ministry of Health who adopted it as part of government policy framework and that between 2009 and 2010, it carried out pilot projects in several districts in Zambia.

Dr Banda stated that despite the copyright protection being automatic in December 2012, World Vision formalised his Theatre for Community Action (TCA) with its end products including SMAGs, by registration with the Registrar of Copyright under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

He is now seeking an order of injunction to restrain World Vision whether acting by its respective directors, officers, servants or agents from using or employing SMAGs model that is essentially identical to his or clearly using his model as their basis without his license or express permission.