UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has sued Economic and Equity Party leader Chilufya Tayali in the Lusaka High Court over remarks that he should be in jail instead of aspiring for presidency, among others.

Hichilema says he is a highly popular presidential candidate and that Tayali is a struggling leader of an insignificant political party that attempts to gain its popularity by vilifying him.

The UPND leader adds that he has never been convicted of any criminal offence to warrant being in Jail or to be barred from vying for Public Office as President of Zambia.

He is now seeking damages for libel against Tayali, aggravated and exemplary damages and an order directing Tayali to retract the defamatory words.

Hichilema also wants an interim and permanent injunction restraining Tayali whether by himself, his servants, agents or otherwise from further publishing or causing to be published or broadcast the defamatory words or any words similarly defamatory to him.

He argues that as a consequence of Tayali’s actions, he has been compelled to engage the services of legal consultants comprising a team of lawyers and their firms, and other consultants and the consequent pecuniary damage, costs and expenses which are projected to accumulate to about K100,000,000 as the process of litigation and damage control continues in the period leading up to the Presidential elections scheduled for the August 12, 2021.

According to a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court yesterday, Hichilema stated that he was a successful businessman having business interests in Zambia and elsewhere.

He added that he was also the president of UPND, which was the largest opposition political party in Zambia, and was an aspirant for the office of President.

Hichilema explained that on November 15, 2020 around 10:00 hours, Tayali hosted a well attended Press Briefing at his offices at Villa Office Complex, where he uttered and caused to be broadcast defamatory words about him.

He stated that Tayali at the said briefing said he had evidence pointing to the fact that he (Hichilema) should be in jail.

“The defendant (Tayali) uttered the following defamatory words about the plaintiff (Hichilema);…’I am here to give you what I strongly believe is evidence pointing to the fact that Mr Hakainde Hichilema should actually not be in politics, he should not be aspiring for presidency, rather he should be in jail. My issue is that people who have got questionable characters, with backgrounds which is dented should not be in politics. I am going to contest in 2021 and I want to make sure that those who will be competing, those who will be contesting, are not criminals. I don’t want to contest with criminals, I don’t want to contest with corrupt people, I don’t want!…

“…I have met people, I have spoken to people, alive, flesh and blood, not ghosts, they have come to complain, how Mr Hakainde Hichilema got them out of their houses, how Mr Hakainde Hichilema kicked them out their employments, how Mr Hakainde Hichilema has not paid them as people who used to work in some of the companies that were privatized… there is one House Plot No. 77/A/609, on Poplar Avenue in Chelstone…it was offered to Mr M Jere and he actually paid for it through SP Mulenga who were the lawyers. Now what happened thereafter, mysteriously that House was bought by Mr Hakainde Hichilema for K31,000…How did Mr Hakainde Hichilema buy this house…he never worked for ZIMCO… There is another property Farm No. 1924, which is in Kalomo in Southern Province…it belongs to the late Samson Siatembo. This property was mortgaged to Lima Bank, around 1989,…today as we speak this property is owned by Mr Hakainde Hichilema…”

Hichilema stated that the said defamatory words meant or were calculated to mean that he was a criminal who deserves to be in jail, a corrupt person of questionable integrity and character, and that he was guilty of numerous offences relating to the affairs of ZIMCO and the liquidation of Lima Bank in the sale of its assets, when in fact not.

He added that aside from being defamatory of him, the said words were false and published maliciously.

Hichilema stated that contrary to the Tayali’s assertion and innuendo contained in the defamatory words, he (Hichilema) has never been convicted of any criminal offence to warrant being in Jail or to be barred from vying for Public Office as President of Zambia.

He further stated that had never taken pecuniary advantage of the affairs at ZIMCO including but not limited to his purchase of House No. 609/A/77, Poplar Road, Chelstone as the property was legally sold to him some close to 20 years ago.

“Contrary to the defendant’s innuendo contained in the defamatory words, the plaintiff has never acted as receiver, manager or liquidator of Lima Bank as alleged by the defendant or at all nor did he acquire the said Farm No. 1924, Kalomo through the said Lima Bank (in liquidation) but bought the same from the estate of the late Samson Siatembo through his heirs and assigns as will be demonstrated at trial. Suffice it to say that the said property is sub judice in Cause No. 2020/HP/ 128 at the suit of the administrator of the estate of the late Samson Siatembo one Pheluna Hatembo and another,” read the claim.

“The details relating to the acquisition of the subject Farm No. 1924, Kalomo and indeed F/609/A/77, Chelstone by the plaintiff are available and easily verifiable by conducting a search on public records maintained at the Lands and Deeds Registry but the defendant deliberately and maliciously went about twisting facts to create an innuendo calculated to disparage the plaintiff.”

Hichilema stated that Tayali could have reported the matters to the law enforcement agencies without the necessity of sensationalising and presenting matters in a manner that suggests that he (Hichilema) was already guilty.

He stated that Tayali uttered and published the defamatory words knowing they were false or reckless, and not caring whether they were true or false.

He lamented that as a result, his reputation had been seriously damaged and he had suffered hatred, ridicule, contempt, distress and embarrassment.

“Further, the plaintiff will aver that his reputation has been lowered in the estimation of right thinking members of the Zambian and global community given his international repute as an astute businessman, and that he is the leader of the largest opposition political party in Zambia and aspiring candidate of the Presidency,” read the claim further.

He stated that despite him demanding formally that Tayali retracts the said words and renders an unreserved apology to him, the defendant proceeded to host another Press Briefing at his office on Tuesday where he categorically declined to retract and apologise for the disparaging words opting instead to repeat them as he justified his action by saying that he had reported the matter to the law enforcement offices.

Hichilema stated that unless restrained by the Court, Tayali will further cause to be broadcast and published the defamatory words or similar words defamatory of him.