THE Lusaka High Court award of K5 billion for defamation against journalist Chanda Chimba following a claim by Post Newspapers has been described as an affront to journalism and an attempt to bully other media houses.
Chapter 19 media activist Henry Crawford said defamation should not be used to paralyze and instill fear against freedom of expression, especially by media houses that should be campaigning against any legal and social hindrances against Press freedom.
“MISA must work with Chimba to appeal this ruling which, if allowed to stand, will have devastating effect on the media in Zambia because it will have established a precedence that other courts will follow.” He said.
Mr. Crawford noted that the highest defamation charge that the Post newspaper was ordered to pay was K35million, against real Estate Consultant Sony Mulenga.
The Post Newspaper libeled Mr. Mulenga by accusing him of corruption which they failed to prove in court, where they did not even defend themselves.
“Judge Nicola Sharpe Phiri ordered the Post to pay him K35million in damages, how can they now demand K5billion from a fellow journalist,” he asked.
In the awarding of damages, he said, courts should be mindful of precedence as well as the overall effect of an ward that went overboard to cripple and maim media houses.