The K5 million damages awarded to the Post newspaper and Fred Namakando M’membe has come as a complete shock to renowned freelance journalist Chanda Chimba III.
Chimba told the Daily Nation that the default judgment by the Lusaka High Court came as a surprise because he had never failed to defend himself and the quantum of the award was incredible.
Mr. Chimba said the only time the matter was active in the courts of law was in 2010 and that it was not possible that he had failed to make submissions in his defence.
He said it was also not possible that he could not attend court sessions, when he had been attending other civil court cases he was facing before the same courts of law.
“It is a regrettable default judgment. The last time the matter was active before the courts of law was in 2010 and since then I have heard nothing about it. “I am yet to meet my lawyers because I am being represented by my lawyers. I have not even seen the judgment. People are the ones calling me asking about the same,” he said.
Mr. Chimba wondered how he could not defend himself when he had done the same in other many matters before the courts of law.
“You see I have many court cases. I have a civil matter with TIZ, I have a civil matter with ZNBC and have other matters where I have made submissions in my defence. So how can I not make submissions in my defence in that matter against Fred Namakando M’membe and his Post?”
According to the Post, the Lusaka High Court has ordered Mr. Chimba to pay K5million for defamation he committed in 2010.
But yesterday Chapter 19 media activist Henry Crawford said the Lusaka High Court award of K5million against journalist Mr Chimba following a claim by Post Newspapers was an affront to journalism and an attempt to bully other media houses.
He 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.” Mr. Crawford said.
He said the highest defamation charge that the Post newspaper was ordered to pay was K35,000 against real estate consultant Sony Mulenga.