UNITED Party for National Development president Hakainde Hichilema cannot claim irreparable damage for being called Tonga, because it is true that he is Tonga, says Patriotic Front secretary general Davis Chama.
Mr. Chama insists that the words purported to be defamatory were actually said by the plaintiff himself during a telephone conversation with a known person and so did not qualify to be used against the newspaper company.
This is in a matter in which the UPND president has sued the Zambia Daily Mail and the Times of Zambia newspapers respectively for defamation, citing irreparable damage to his reputation with the potential to cost him this year’s presidential election.
Mr Chama said there was no cause for an injunction as the plaintiff was a politician who could not restrict his statements from being quoted by the media or be commented about.
“That the plaintiff has failed to demonstrate how he is likely to suffer irreparable injury if the injunction is not granted because it is true that the plaintiff is Tonga and that it is also true that he was asked to refute allegations that he made tribal sentiments.
“That as a politician the plaintiff cannot stop people from talking about him and the statements attributed so far to me are all fair comments on a matter of public interest namely the presidential election,” Mr Chama said.
Mr Hichilema has applied to the High Court to restrain Mr Chama and other defendants in both matters from speaking or reporting about him through themselves as individuals or their publications.
The opposition leader charged that the two public newspapers in their separate publications quoted Mr Chama and others over a story supposedly meant to damage his reputation and ruin his presidential aspirations.
Mr. Chama said it was surprising that a politician could attempt to silence other politicians in a democratic environment such as Zambia and requested the courts to throw out the injunction application.
Mr Chama, in his defense, asked the High Court to dismiss the whole suit because Mr Hichilema has failed to demonstrate how being called a Tonga could disadvantage him from becoming the people’s choice in an election for republican presidency. Meanwhile, Zamia Daily Mail and Times of Zambia have both refuted claims of defamatory statement against Mr Hichilema.
Zambia Daily Mail in their response to the suit of defamation said what they published was from a classified source who presented contents of the telephone conversation quoted as ‘‘alleging’’ in the story, and that the newspaper talked to the UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka whose sentiments were captured in the said article as disputing the story. Mr Hichilema sued Mr Chama, PF member Sunday Chanda and the Times of Zambia newspaper, managing director Beston Ngonga, and two journalists Passy Hachizo and Rebecca Mushota respectively, for an article presumed to be defamatory.
In another matter, Mr Hichilema has sued Mr Chama and PF Lusaka Province youth chairperson Kennedy Kaamba, as defendants together with the Zambia Daily Mail Limited, Nebet Mbewe, as newspaper managing editor and journalist Munide Zulu.