The Lusaka High Court has granted Kabwe Central PF member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube a stay of execution of its judgement which ordered him to pay Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Eddie Mwitwa damages for slander and libel.
High Court deputy registrar granted Ngulube an ex-parte order to stay execution of the default judgement, pending hearing of his application to set aside the same.
“Upon hearing counsel for the defendant and upon reading the affidavit of one honourable Tutwa Sandani Ngulube filed herein, it is hereby ordered that stay of execution of the judgement be and is hereby granted pending hearing of an application to set aside judgement,” read the ex-parte order to stay execution of default judgement.
The matter comes up for inter-parte hearing on January 8, next year.
In this matter, Mwitwa has sued Ngulube in the Lusaka High Court, claiming damages for slander and libel for accusing him of being used by UPND to fight political battles.
Mwitwa is seeking aggravated and exemplary damages for libel and slander.
He is further seeking damages for inconvenience, mental stress and anguish, as well as, interest on any sums awarded from the date of writ to the date of full settlement, costs and any other relief the court may deem fit.
Last week, the Lusaka High Court entered a judgment in default of appearance and defence against Ngulube.
According to an interlocutory judgement in default of appearance and defence granted in favour of Mwitwa by the High Court deputy registrar, the court directed Ngulube to award Mwitwa aggravated and exemplary damages for slander and libel, which would be assessed by the deputy registrar together with interest.
But in his affidavit in support of summons to set aside judgement in default of appearance and defence, Ngulube stated that his advocates had on countless times tried to file the defence but the Registry was unable to locate the file and persistently said the file could not be located and thus, they could not accept the documents.
He added that to his surprise, Mwitwa managed to file a default judgement despited the registry stuff claiming to be unable to locate the file.
“That the file was reallocated between different registrars and in the process the file got lost and not be traced and located,” he stated.
And in his defence, Ngulube denied that he caused to be published, the statement or words complained of and that he shall put Mwitwa to strict proof.
He stated that while serving his community as member of parliament of Kabwe Central constituency, he had qualified privilege to express his opinion as fair comment on the matters that were of public interest and a concern to the citizens thus he would aver at trial that the alleged defamatory statement made was not defamatory as it was justifiable as a fair comment.