ALLIANCE for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi says it is unfortunate that National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) decided to sue him alongside News Diggers in an intimidation attempt.
On Tuesday, Lusaka High Court Judge Sharon Newa dismissed a case in which NAPSA had sued Milupi and News Diggers Media Limited over a publication that allegedly accused it of corruption and mismanagement of member’s funds.
Commenting on the ruling in an interview, Milupi said NAPSA should have addressed the issues which were raised rather then rushing to court.
“It is unfortunate that NAPSA decided to take that route in the hope that they would intimidate both myself as a public figure who cares about the institutions of good governance, the preservations of public resources and also News Diggers as an independent minded media institution. The issues upon which I commented and upon which News Diggers wrote the story, are issues of public interest. Both News Diggers and myself have no personal interests other than the fact that NAPSA is supposed to be the institution of last resort for many workers in this country who spend their time working in various fields. And at the end of their working life, they expect NAPSA to provide for them right up to the end of their life,” Milupi said.
“We have seen in Zambia that NAPSA is one of the worst schemes in terms of value for money, in terms of what pensioners get out of it, completely nothing. And the reason for this is purely whoever runs NAPSA is unable to generate value that they will then use to adequately fund their pensioners. As a result, we have very little money that comes out. When now they get involved in schemes and projects that are suspicious and we who care about those pensioners raise our views on what has happened, for example the contract that was in question was completely questionable. Instead of addressing those issues because they are public institutions, they seek now to carry out intimidation by way of threatening litigation. We are very pleased that somebody has told them, that as public institution they cannot start suing for libel to those that raise issues of public interest.”
He said NAPSA had been shown that they had difficulties in understanding the law.
“In any case, NAPSA, as a public institution, who are the owners of NAPSA? Because those are the ones who should feel offended. Is it the management? No they are workers! Is it the board of directors? The citizens of this country are the owners of NAPSA. So if we the owners complain and raise issues on how our institution is being run, how can someone then say we are libeling ourselves? It is like on my farm, if I raise issues that my farm is not doing what it should be doing, how can I sue myself? They have been shown that even understanding the law they have difficulties. In Zambia, they think you can intimidate anybody, no you can’t do that,” he said.
Milupi said he felt bad that the case did not go into full trial because more issues that the Authority was involved in would have been brought to light.
“The companies they are dealing with, the one on which we raised issues, they are involved in so many things. And in a way, I feel bad that this case did not go into full trial, we would have raised issue after issue where they have been involved in questionable circumstances including the same company that they have awarded a contract to. In a way, they have been saved by having this quick judgement. I think it is a lesson for all public institutions that respond to the concerns of the citizens, do not try to intimidate. In Zambia now, because of the dictatorship we are in, everyone is trying to intimidate everybody else and in the process, they want to be left so that they can eat quietly and do whatever they want. That judgement shows that there is still some order in the accountability. It is a good judgment,” said Milupi.