New Congress Party president Peter Chanda has testified that when Chishimba Kambwili questioned President Edgar Lungu’s association with Lusaka businessman Harry Valden Findlay, he implied that the Head of State is a criminal who deals in illegal drug activities.
In this matter, Kambwili has been charged with defamation of the President following a complaint filed in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court by the New Congress party leader.
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 did publish defamatory matters affecting the President of Zambia, Edgar Chagwa 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 uttered words are deemed defamatory matter 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.
When the matter came up for commencement of trial before Magistrate Felix Kaoma, Tuesday, Chanda testified that as a politician, he followed what happened on social media and took keen interest in what prevailed within the circles of the media.
He told the court that on September 10, this year, that Kambwili held a press conference where he addressed three key areas.
Chanda said Kambwili talked about the de-registration of his political party and secondly, he questioned President Lungu’s association with Findlay.
He said the second issue was where his interest lay and he consequently lodged a complaint of defamation of the President against Kambwili.
Chanda further told the Court that the last part of Kambwili’s address answered questions from the media.
The State witness testified that Kambwili said:
“Zambian people and the world-over were now saying that the presidential trips and jet was used to courier drugs.”
He said Kambwili further said in Bemba that, “people will start thinking that the presidential plane carries hot stuff.”
“This programme, your honour, was broadcast live on Diamond TV and all media houses were present. Dr Chishimba Kambwili further alleged that there were allegations by people that trunks of money came from Israel on the presidential jet. It is at that point that I saw that this was a vicious, malicious campaign by honourable Chishimba Kambwili to scandalize, defame and bring the name of the President into contempt and hatred with the Zambian people,” Chanda said.
He said he recorded the press briefing on his laptop and transferred it to a flash drive.
Chanda said in their line of duty as politicians, it was not wrong to criticize the President, but added that it was wrong to defame, scandalize and bring the President’s name into contempt and disrepute without concrete evidence.
He said he didn’t know which Zambian people Kambwili was saying he represented.
The witness said on September 11, this year, the Mast Newspaper carried a story with a headline stating that, “Kambwili queries Lungu and Findlay association.”
Chanda further said the following day on September 12, the Mast Newspaper carried another story stating: “Israel envoy vigorously denies smuggling money using Lungu’s plane.”
He said a similar story was also published in the Zambia Daily Mail on page three, with the headline stating: “Israel rubbishes Kambwili’s allegations.”
After the video of Kambwili’s said press briefing was played in court, Chanda said the words uttered by Kambwili implied that the Head of State is a criminal and deals in drugs.
The matter has been adjourned to January 29, next year, for cross-examination.