President Edgar Lungu’s former Ishuko Primary School teacher in Kitwe’s Chimwemwe Township has told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that the Head of State was among the brightest pupils in his class.

This is the matter in which New Labour Party leader Fresher Siwale is charged with defamation of the President.

Siwale is alleged to have on April 22, 2018, with intent to bring the name of President Edgar Lungu into ridicule, did publish defamatory matter by word of mouth to which he said ‘the President of the Republic of Zambia is not the actual Edgar Chagwa Lungu but Jonathan Mutawale, he must be arrested for having three National Registration Cards, he is an identity thief’.

And when the matter came up for continued trial before Principle resident magistrate Alice Walusiku, Tuesday, Nelson Dhliwayo, a 76-year-old retired teacher and small scale farmer, testified that in 2014, he was approached by his former pupil Charles Muleba, who was also President Lungu’s former classmate.

He said Muleba informed him that one of his former pupils was not a cabinet minister.

He said the same year, he traveled from Kitwe to Lusaka to see President Lungu at the Ministry of Home Affairs where a secretary ushered him into the office.

“After walking into the office, the moment he saw me, Edgar stood up. I asked him if he could remember me after all this time, he said yes. We both recognised each other and began to talk,” Dhliwayo said.

The state witness further testified that the Head of State was one of his brightest pupils who used to get distinctions in weekly tests and that the President was always in Group A.

Dhliwayo said he was not really surprised when he learnt that President Lungu had become a Cabinet minister because his qualities matched that position.

He added that the boy he taught, Edgar Lungu, was the one who became President of the Republic of Zambia.

“He lived in Chimwemwe, house number 4001 where he lived with his mother. I used to ask Edgar Lungu to remain in charge of the class whenever we had teacher meetings. I was not really surprised when I heard that he is a Cabinet minister because his qualities followed him,” Dhliwayo said.

He also said President Lungu’s physical appearance had not changed much.

Dhliwayo added that in 1972, President Lungu went to Mukuba Secondary School for his grade nine.

In cross examination by defence lawyers Gilbert Phiri and Keith Mweemba, the witness said Charles Muleba was President Lungu’s classmate in Grade six.

Dhliwayo added that if President Lungu was to come to court, he would confirm that he was his teacher.

At this point, the defence applied to have the matter referred to the High Court for the determination of some Constitutional questions which have never been determined by any court in Zambia, among them whether or not the prosecution of the accused person on charge of defamation of the President was in violation of a right to fair trial to the bill of rights enshrined under article 18 2(c) of the constitution.

The matter comes up on September 4, 2019 for ruling on the application.