Lusaka businessman Harry Valden Findlay has sued Chishimba Kambwili in the Lusaka High Court seeking damages for accusing him of being a drug dealer and using the Presidential jet to traffic drugs.
Findlay, who is further seeking an order of injunction to restrain Kambwili by himself, servants or agents from uttering any defamatory remarks concerning him, has lamented that his reputation and character as a renowned businessman has been damaged as he has been labeled a drug dealer and trafficker.
He is now seeking damages for libel and slander or in the alternative, damages for malicious falsehoods, damages on the footing of aggravated or exemplary damages, interest, costs and any other relief the court may deem fit.
On September 9, 2019, Kambwili, the leader of the de-registered National Democratic Congress (NDC), challenged President Edgar Lungu to disclose the kind of business he was involved in with Findlay.
“I want to ask the President to be very honest with the people of Zambia; tell us what business you have with Valden Findlay. History has it that Mr Findlay was locked up by Dr Kenneth Kaunda for dealing in drugs. We have seen that whenever you go abroad, when coming out of the plane, the next person to come out is Valden Findlay. There are allegations by the people of Zambia and world-over that, maybe, the Presidential trips and the Presidential Plane is now being used to courier drugs. This man (Findlay) has been mentioned in drug deals in America by Goswami who was also locked up here by Dr Kaunda and deported. This man has given evidence to the American government and the American Courts to the effect that Valden Findlay is an associate in drug dealing,” Kambwili said at his September 9 briefing.
“Are we under State capture by Valden Findlay? What business do you do with Valden Findlay, your Excellency Mr President? The people of Zambia want to know. We have seen now that even jobs in government have started going to people who are close to Valden Findlay, this Chellah who is the Special Assistant to the President for Project Monitoring was a ‘chola boy’ for Findlay, but he’s now got a government job.”
In a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, Tuesday, Findlay stated that Kambwili’s words in their natural and ordinary meaning meant and were understood to mean that he was an international drug dealer and drug trafficker who uses the Presidential plane to carry narcotic drugs.
He stated that Kambwili’s words were also understood to mean that he obtained favours, business advantage, government contracts and positions for his friends by virtue of his close friendship with President Lungu.
Findlay stated that as a result of Kambwili’s words, he had been seriously injured in his character, credit, reputation and had been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt.
“Since the publication, the plaintiff (Findlay) has been humiliated by public social media publications. His members of the family have been taunted, insulted and have suffered anxiety which has caused Findlay additional hurt and embarrassment,” read the statement of claim.
He stated that the words complained of were uttered in a sensational manner, adding that Kambwili knew or ought to have known that the allegations were untrue.
Findlay further stated that Kambwili had neglected or refused to retract and apologise for the defamatory statements and had continued uttering defamatory words despite him (Findlay) making it clear through a public statement that the said words were false.
He stated that the words complained of were widely circulated in electronic, print and worldwide web media, all of which were accessed by substantial but unquantifiable number of readers, views and users.
Findlay stated that he conducts himself legally within the established parameters and had never been convicted of any offence.
He stated that Kambwili published the words complained of knowing that they were false or reckless, not caring whether they were true or false in order to induce business losses on Findlay’s part on account of dishonest character.
Findlay lamented that he had lost opportunity to freely engage in gainful business dealings, which has resulted in loss and damage.