National Democratic Congress (NDC) leader Chishimba Kambwili has denied the defamation of the President charge 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.
Kambwili is facing a charge of defamation of the President following a complaint filed in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court by New Congress party leader Peter Chanda.
It is alleged that on dates unknown but between September 1 and 12, 2019 in Lusaka, Kambwili, with intent to bring the name of the President into hatred, ridicule and contempt, published defamatory matter affecting President Lungu by word of mouth to which he said “What business do you do with Valden Findlay? Because we see, when you go abroad, when coming out of the plane, the next person to come out is Valden Findlay. Now, the allegations by the people of Zambia and world over are that may be the Presidential trips and the Presidential plane is now being used to courier drugs…”
The basis for the defamation of the President charge slapped on Kambwili further emanates from his statement that “…There is no way a President worth his salt can be moving and associating with a person who was locked up for drugs, a person who was mentioned in America by a well-known world drug dealer in the name of Goswami and when I say this, is without… you know, it’s with…impunity but I am trying to protect you, President Edgar Lungu. There is no way, my brother wingakwata ichibusa no muntu wamusango fi (you can’t have friendship with such a person) and I am appealing to the Americans, please come and pick up this man…”
These words were defamatory and intended to bring the President into hatred, ridicule and contempt that the President is engaging in illegal drug related activities and using the Presidential plane to courier drugs.
Previously, Kambwili could not take plea as he said he did not understand the charge.
Magistrate Felix Kaoma then directed that the complainant, Chanda, files a new indictment after the lead private prosecutor applied to amend the indictment so that it was clear.
And when the matter came up for plea, Monday, Jonas Zimba, the lead private prosecutor, informed the court that they had amended the charge sheet and had circulated it to both the court and defence.
When magistrate Kaoma asked Kambwili if he understood the charge when it was read to him, the accused responded in the affirmative.
He then took a plea of not guilty.
The matter comes up on December 3, 2019, for commencement of trial.
In his complaint filed in the Lusaka Magistrates’ 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 was engaging in illegal drug related activities and using the Presidential plane to courier drugs as per words of mouth made on Diamond Television and video shared on Facebook by the Zambian 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 and News Diggers newspapers.
“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.