Former HPCZ Registrar Aaron Mujajati has sued Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya in the Lusaka High Court, seeking damages for defamation of character after the latter accused him of being irrational and inhumane for closing down health institutions on flimsy grounds.
Dr Mujajati who has also sued the Attorney General, is further seeking an order for an injunction restraining Dr Chilufya whether by himself, servants or agents, from making statements about him that are defamatory.
During a press briefing on January 18, 2019, where he inaugurated and inducted the new Health Professional Council of Zambia (HPCZ) Board, Dr Chilufya charged that Dr Mujajati was detached from reality and needed to tone down, adding that his pride should not lie in the closure of institutions.
“…You are detached from reality, you need to tone down, you need to sober up. You have gone on a rampage charging hospitals exorbitant fees and have not been sensitive on the universal health coverage agenda and you have also been irrational, closed down hospitals on flimsy grounds such as lack of fire extinguisher…Your sense of humanity has been absent…your job is not to be a police service to people, to go and harm, intimidate, harass and police people,” he had said.
“…Your conduct is lawlessness and we will not condone lawlessness…you cannot be robotic…we did not unleash a police service… let us restore sanity and rid of tyranny and terror. Stop disrupting service delivery…we did not appoint a missile crashing everything on its path.”
But in a statement of claim filed on May 24, Dr Mujajati stated that Dr Chilufya’s statements were false, malicious and intended to injure his reputation.
He added that Dr Chilufya’s words in their natural and ordinary meaning were understood to mean that he was a tyrant, proud, self-proclaimed police man, irrational, inhumane, detached from reality and one who had lost direction and thus incompetent to be a Chief Executive Officer or health professional.
Dr Mujajati stated that he had served on several boards both in the private and public sector, adding that Dr Chilufya’s statement was made in a sensational manner.
He stated that Dr Chilufya knew and ought to have known that the allegation that he was incompetent and irrational was untrue.
Dr Mujajati added that Dr Chilufya knew or ought to have known that the exorbitant fees charged to hospitals by HPCZ were approved under the minister’s own hand.
“Dr Chilufya knew and ought to have known that the use of expired drugs on unsuspecting members of the public, operating a health facility without a licence among other acts that could put consumers in imminent danger are and were not on flimsy grounds for closure of a health facility. Dr Chilufya knew or ought to have known that Dr Mujajati is a qualified medical doctor of high standing in the Zambian medical profession,” read the statement of claim.
He stated that he would ask the court to infer that Dr Chilufya broadcasted or published the words with the knowledge that they were slanderous and libellous.
Dr Mujajati lamented that he had been seriously injured in his reputation, his esteem had been lowered and brought into ridicule, contempt and public scandal as a result of the said press statement.
He is therefore seeking damages for defamation of character, exemplary damages, interest on the amount found due at the commercial bank lending rate, costs and any other relief the court may deem fit.