NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili has been charged with Defamation of the President in relation to his statement where he questioned President Edgar Lungu’s association with businessman Harry Valden Findlay, whom he allegedly accused of dealing in drugs.
This follows a complaint filed in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court by New Congress party leader Peter Chanda.
Meanwhile, the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has directed Chanda to file a new charge sheet in the interest of justice after Kambwili told the court that he did not understand it when it was read to him.
Particulars of the offence in this matter allege that on September 9, this year, in Lusaka, Kambwili with intent to bring the name of the President into ridicule and contempt, published defamatory matter affecting the President by word of mouth to which he said “…what business do you have with Findlay because we see when you go abroad, when coming out of the plane the next person to come out is Findlay. Now allegations by the people of Zambia and world over are that maybe the Presidential trips and plane is now being used to courier drugs…”
And in his complaint filed in court, Chanda stated that Kambwili’s words were defamatory and intended to bring the name of the President into hatred, ridicule and contempt that the Head of State is engaging in illegal drug related activities and using the Presidential plane to courier drugs as per words of mouth made on Diamond Television and as appearing on a social media video particularly, Facebook; Zambia Watchdog.
He stated that the video of Kambwili uttering the said words by mouth had been viewed by the public on Facebook and also published by the Mast Newspaper and News Diggers.
“I verily believe that I have a reasonable and probable cause that an offence has been committed by the accused necessitating a complaint and that he has no justification to utter by word of mouth defamatory matter to the nation and the world at large against his Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the Republican President of Zambia,” read Chanda’s complaint.
When the matter came up before magistrate Felix Kaoma, Tuesday, the court declined to adjourn the matter and insisted that Kambwili takes plea.
This was after Kambwili’s lawyer Keith Mweemba asked the court for an adjournment in order to appreciate the content of the complaint.
But Jonas Zimba, the lead private prosecutor, objected, arguing that Kambwili had enough time to look at the complaint and insisted that he takes plea as the law allows him to change plea at any given time.
In his ruling, magistrate Kaoma ordered Kambwili to take plea.
However, when asked if he understood the charge when it was read to him, Kambwili said he did not.
The court then stood down the matter for thirty minutes.
When the matter resumed, Kambwili’s lawyer, Mweemba said the charge was supposed to be clear and in a language he understands.
Another defence Lawyer Gilbert Phiri added that the instructions from Kambwili was that he did not understand the charge.
“Even we, as counsel cannot decipher what is being communicated and which language is being used,” he said.
Phiri argued that the prosecution needed to align the charges with the law.
Zimba, the lead private prosecutor, then applied to amend the indictment so that it was crystal clear.
In his ruling, magistrate Kaoma allowed the amendment of the indictment and directed that the complainant, Chanda files in a new indictment.
The matter comes up on November 25, 2019, for plea.
Kambwili is facing five other matters at the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court which include; defamation of the President, forgery, contempt of court and issuing racial remarks against an Indian national.