STATE House police divisional assistant commissioner Michael Malambo has told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that anyone who refers to Valden Findlay’s dealings refers to President Edgar Lungu.
He was testifying in a matter in which National Democratic Congress (NDC) party leader Chishimba Kambwili is charged with defamation of the President following a complaint filed in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court by New Congress Party president Peter Chanda.
It is alleged that between September 1 and 12, 2019 in Lusaka, Kambwili, with intent to bring the name of the President into hatred, ridicule and contempt, published defamatory matter affecting President 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…”
During cross examination by defence counsel Keith Mweemba, Malambo told the court that whoever referred to Mr Findlay referred to the President.
However, Mweemba said when the accused referred to Findlay as being involved or associating with people who dealt in drugs, that did not mean that the President was involved.
However, the witness said he did not agree with Mweemba’s assertion.
When asked whether or not any person who made reference to Findlay’s dealings also referred to President Lungu, the witness agreed in the affirmative.
“”So anyone who referrs to Mr Findlay’s dealings refers to the President”?” asked the defence counsel, to which Malambo responded: “Yes”.
When asked again if he meant that any reference to made to Findlay also referred to President Lungu, Malambo maintained his affirmative response, much to the surprise of the defence lawyer and the accused.
And during re-examination, Malambo emphasised that the reason he said anyone who referred to Findlay’s dealings was also referring to President Lungu was because when the allegations were made by Kambwili, they were directed at Findlay who was an associate of the President.
But in his testimony, Malambo, whose duty was to prepare and arrange the movements of the President, denied having knowledge of the Head of State’s trips with Findlay, whether local or foreign.
He said he only had knowledge of one trip which was on April 2, 2019 to the Copperbelt but could not categorically dispute the trip that was taken to Kenya as he was not aware and needed to check with his office to be sure.
“On Mr Findlay, the only time I saw him move with the President was on 2nd April 2019, Ndola to be specific, in the Presidential Challenger,” Malambo said.
He added that to be sure of who went with the President, he needed to check the manifest but could not avail it to the court as he did not have the authority to do so.
And when questioned whether he would have failed in his duties if the trips did actually take place, Malambo responded in the affirmative.
He further added that all VVIP passengers, including the President, the Vice-President and ministers, were subjected to body searches whenever they were travelling but did not have their bags opened during the process.
“Whenever the President is going out, locally or internationally, we are always informed as to where as well as those to accompany him. As soon as we are given details of the manifest, then my officer takes charge. By taking charge, I mean he would make follow ups to those accompanying the President so that luggage can be surrendered to our office. When the luggage is surrendered, we have a spraying process. We thoroughly check and search and ensure the luggage is safe to be handled by VVIP. After we are satisfied, I and officers would accompany luggage to the airport,” Malambo said
“We check for anything that could either harm or embarrass the Head of State and the entourage. The things that we look for are things like explosives, bombs, drugs and any other unusual items in terms of security.”
He was further asked to confirm to the court if the accused person, being a tax payer and a leader of an opposition party, had the right to question the issues affecting the nation, to which he responded in the affirmative.
“What I meant was that as a concerned citizen, as well as a tax payer, as opposition leader, he is also a tax payer. Whenever there are issues to do with this, he has the right to comment,” said Malambo during re-examination when asked to clarify his answer.
The matter has since been adjourned to November 16-17 for continuation of trial.