NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili has denied defaming Lusaka businessman Harry Valden Findlay in the Lusaka High Court, saying he was merely stating facts that are already in public domain which cannot amount to defamation.
Kambwili stated that as a leader of an opposition political party, he has the role of providing checks and balances to government.
He noted that many queries had arisen in public domain as regards the relationship between President Edgar Lungu and Findlay, therefore, the purported statements were made as a request to the President to set the record straight in respect of the same.
In this matter, Findlay has sued Kambwili in the Lusaka High Court for accusing him of being a drug dealer and using the Presidential jet to traffic drugs.
Findlay, who is seeking, among other claims, damages for libel and slander and an order of injunction to restrain Kambwili by himself, servants or agents from uttering any defamatory remarks concerning him, lamented that his reputation and character as a renowned businessman has been damaged as he has been labeled a drug dealer and trafficker.
In his statement of claim, 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.
However, in his defence filed in the Lusaka High Court, October 15, Kambwili stated that the words complained of were fair comments and were not actuated by malice but for the information of the public.
“The words complained of are a fair comment and are statements of facts which emanate from the reasonable observations of the defendant (Kambwili). The words complained of are true and not in any way malicious,” he stated.
Kambwili stated that it was true in substance and in fact that Findlay was once detained by the Zambian Law Enforcement Agencies for drug related offences during the reign of first Republican President Dr Kenneth Kaunda.
“It is true in substance and in fact that transcripts stemming from the cross examination of Goswami, who is currently in detention in the United States where he and the notorious Akasha brothers were extradited from Kenya by the DEA to face charges for various drug related crimes, vehicle theft and murder; stated that Findlay was part of the syndicate of drug dealers in Southern Africa,” he stated.
Kambwili further stated that it was true in substance and in fact that President Lungu and Findlay had been seen together during official state functions and have also been seen together on both local and international trips.
He added that it was also true that the Special Assistant to the President for projects monitoring Andrew Chellah once worked for Findlay.
Kambwili stated that the public had not been told the source of the Presidential Empowerment Fund, adding that it was also true that on numerous occasions, Findlay had been seen boarding and disembarking the Presidential jet in the company of the President.
“It is true that Findlay is neither a public servant in employ of the Zambian government, a constitutional office holder nor is he on record as a party official in the ruling Patriotic Front party. It is true in substance and in fact that the State House press office issued a statement to the effect that State House took very seriously any allegation related to drug trafficking and that Zambian Law Enforcement Agencies will take appropriate steps to investigate the allegations in connection with drug trafficking in coordination with all appropriate authorities,” he stated.
Kambwili further stated that it was true and in public domain that Kaweche Kaunda issued a press statement that he received a phone call from Goswami who asked him to speak to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to negotiate his release.
He added that when Kaweche refused to do as requested, Goswami called him weeks later to inform him that he had spoken to Findlay who had agreed to speak to President Lungu, who was in turn going to speak to his Kenyan counterpart to negotiate the said Goswami’s release.
“The defendant (Kambwili) denies each and every allegation in the statement of claim,” stated Kambwili.
Meanwhile, the matter in which PF Secretary General Davies Mwila has sued Kambwili for defamation for allegedly accusing him of hiring someone to write his Grade 12 examination for him, will be heard by the High Court next month.
Lusaka High Court judge Maria Kawimbe has set November 28, this year, as date of hearing the matter which commenced in December last year.