Kambwili has the right to criticize govt, ZNBC staffer tells court

ZNBC reporter Mark Ziligone has admitted before the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili has a right to criticize the government of the day to offer checks and balances.

He also agreed that there was nothing wrong for Kambwili to remind government about proper investment or foreigners taking up jobs belonging to Zambians.

This is in a matter in which Kambwili is charged with one count of expressing or showing hatred, ridicule or contempt for persons because of race.

It is alleged that Kambwili on February 19, last year, expressed racial remarks on Rajesh Kumar Verma, an Indian national.

Ziligone, 29, had previously testified that on February 19 last year, a video of Kambwili allegedly uttering racial remarks against an Indian national, who was operating a road compactor went viral on social media.

He added that the said video was on different Facebook sites like Zambia Reports, among others.

Ziligone said after he saw the said video, he presented it as a news idea to his assignment editor and afterwards carried out an investigation to establish where the incident happened.

He said he tried to get hold of Kambwili to get his side of the story, but his phone went unanswered.

He said he managed to get a reaction from Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya who condemned the incident.

“After I saw the video, I downloaded it using my phone. I carried out some investigations to establish as to where that incident happened. I established that that place was in Munali. I visited the site where the incident happened and asked people who were present. They confirmed to me that the incident of honourable Kambwili and the Indian man happened from there,” he told the Court.

“I tried to call him (Kambwili) using my phone, but his phone went unanswered. I went on to work on the story after I got a reaction of Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya over the matter. She condemned the move. I saved the video on the computer system of ZNBC from my phone. The news was then aired on the 19:00 hours main news on February 20.”

He said after the story was aired on ZNBC main news, police went to the office over the same.

Ziligone said he gave them a DVD, which contained the package of the story he did.

When the matter came up for continued cross-examination before Principal Magistrate Jenipher Bwalya, Wednesday, Ziligone agreed with Kambwili’s defence lawyer Keith Mweemba that it was a fact that he published the article without Kambwili’s side.

He also admitted that there were no statistics of the number of people holding Verma in low esteem to show that he was defamed.

Ziligone admitted that Kambwili, as a leader of the opposition, had the right to criticize the government of the day in order to offer checks and balances.

He also agreed that there was nothing wrong for Kambwili to remind government about proper investment or foreigners taking up jobs belonging to Zambians.

After Mweemba finished his cross-examination, the State applied to have the matter adjourned for re-examination.

The matter comes up on February 24, for re-examination of the witness.

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