LUSAKA lawyer Mulambo Haimbe says Honeybee Pharmacy Limited is not taking the right approach by asking News Diggers! Newspaper to retract and apologise for publishing ‘malicious’ articles against them with regards to supply of defective condoms and drugs.

In a letter written by Honeybee’s lawyer Tutwa Ngulube, Friday, Honeybee Pharmacy Limited threatened to sue News Diggers! Media Limited for libel over the publication of ‘false’ articles against them regarding the distribution of defective condoms and drugs.

But in an interview, Haimbe said Honeybee was not taking the best approach as the matter was of national interest.

“Any individual that feels that it has been wrongly discussed, if I am to call it that, in the media, has the right to ask for the image to be protected. However, that being said, there are several defences to defamation allegations and one of them is, indeed, fair comment on a matter of public interest. In my view, I would think that perhaps Honeybee is not taking the best approach given the number of public comments and issues that have been made and this is a question of national interest, the question of public interest,” Haimbe said.

“It is something that has been discussed at length and it is something on at least one platform that they have been found wanting. For me, I would expect that they should humble themselves. They have admitted to a degree in some of the statements that there was one batch of things that was found to have been defective and so on and so forth. We can’t turn around and say, ‘retract,’ when in fact, they themselves have given an indication that at least one batch was not in good form.”

He added that what remained important was whether the correct procedure in allocation of the contract was followed.

“The fact they say that they are being singled out, the fact they say that, ‘others have not been asked to exculpate themselves’ is neither here nor there; ‘they haven’t completed the full tender and it is not the full 17 million,’ according to them that was paid, is neither here nor there. The fact is that the centre of the public controversy and interests is the question as to whether or not the full procedure was followed and whether or not there was defective goods that were supplied. As far as that has been confirmed, then there should be no topic of saying, ‘people should apologise and retract’,” said Haimbe.