NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili yesterday personally cross examined New Congress party president Peter Chanda in a case he is charged with defamation of the President.
This was after Lusaka Magistrate Felix Kaoma refused to adjourn the case to enable Kambwili’s lawyer, Keith Mweemba, who had earlier withdrawn his representation, to place himself back on record.
In this matter, Kambwili is 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 between September 1 and 12, last year in Lusaka, Kambwili with intent to bring the name of the President into hatred, ridicule and contempt published defamatory matter affecting President Edgar 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 matter is being privately prosecuted by lawyers, Jonas Zimba who is the lead private prosecutor, as well as, Emmanuel Mwansa from EBM Chambers.
On October 2, 2020, Lusaka lawyer, Josephs Akafumba placed himself on record as Kambwili’s defence lawyer and informed the court that Mweemba and other defence lawyers, Gilbert Phiri and Christopher Mundia had withdrawn their legal representation of the accused in the matter.
However, when the matter came up yesterday for cross examination of the witness, Akafumba applied to have the matter adjourned to today (Tuesday), saying it was practically impossible for him to cross examine Chanda who was on the stand because he did not have a chance to go through the case record which was in possession of the previous lawyers.
He added that the differences that stood between Kambwili and the previous lawyers at the time they withdrew their legal representation were positively resolved and that the lawyers had agreed to continue handling the matter.
Akafumba said Mweemba, having agreed to place himself back on record, had asked him to humbly request the court to adjourn the matter to today so that he could cross examine Chanda.
Akafumba said the request was not meant to demean or disrespect the court in any way.
But in response, Zimba said the matter had been adjourned on five occasions and at the instance of the defence.
He said at last sitting, the court made it clear on what would happen on the dates that were set including yesterday’s date, that the cross examination must proceed.
Another prosecuting lawyer, Charles Changano urged the court not to adjourn the case on the reasons given by Akafumba as Mweemba was not yet on record.
In his ruling, Magistrate Kaoma declined to grant the adjournment and ordered Akafumba to cross examine Chanda.
But Akafumba said “since it’s practically impossible for me to cross examine the witness, the accused will cross examine the witness himself”.
Cross examining the witness, Kambwili asked Chanda whether he understood the duties of opposition political leaders to which Chanda said it was to provide checks and balances.
Kambwili also asked Chanda if questioning the President’s association with people of questionable character amounted to defamation.
In response Chanda said yes, prompting Kambwili to ask how questioning the President’s association with people of questionable character amounted to defamation of the president, but Chanda said Kambwili spoke affirmatively and convincingly such that the people of Zambia maybe questioning that the Presidential jet was being used to courier drugs.
Kambwili also asked Chanda if Findlay was locked up by first Republican President Kenneth Kaunda for drug related charges or not to which Chanda said yes.
Trial continues today.