Hichilema Asks Court to Grant Waiver in Sata Defamation Case

Zambia’s opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has asked the Lusaka High Court to grant waiver of immunity for President Michael Sata in a defamation suit the Head of State has brought to court.

Hichilema says there will be no level playing field if the case where President Sata sued him for defamation proceeded without a waiver of his immunity.

Zambian leader President Sata has sued Hichilema, popular online publication Zambian Watchdog proprietor Lloyd Himaambo and Daily Nation editor Richard Sakala as first, second and third respondents respectively in one of his many attempts to frustrate the opposition and limit freedom of expression.

Sata, who during in the opposition, was a stern critic of Levy Mwanawasa and Rupiah Banda, sued the trio following a press release which Hichilema issued accusing President Sata of awarding a contract to his finance minister Alexander Chikwanda to renovate State House.

Chikwanda is also President Sata’s uncle serving a government that is now referred to as a family forest following favours given to immediate and distant relations as well as tribesmates.

In the statement in contention, Hichilema also accused President Sata of interfering with justice in the case involving Development Bank of Zambia versus JCN Holdings, Post Newspapers Limited and Mutembo Nchito where the defendants defrauded the public over K14 billion.

According to Hichilema’s affidavit in support of summons to set aside President Sata’s summons and statement of claim for irregularity, the Head of State had not waived his immunity and there was, therefore, no level playing field for him in the matter.

Hichilema stated that he wishes to put up a counterclaim against President Sata but that he was unable to do so because the later had not waived his immunity.

He stated that his right to equal protection under the law was under threat due to President Sata’s immunity under the law.

Hichilema added that he needs assurances that he would not be hampered in presenting his defence to the courts of law as a result of President Sata’s immunity.

He asked that proceedings be stayed until further order or until President Sata waives his immunity in respect of his action and that the costs are borne by the plaintiff.

Hichilema also submitted that President Sata could not be charged for perjury due to the immunity he enjoyed thereby prejudicing him from getting a fair trial.

He stated that if the matter goes in his favour, since President Sata had powers to set up a tribunal, he might set one for the presiding judge.

Hichilema also argued that in an event that President Sata lost the matter and costs were awarded to him, he would not be able to enforce an order to recover costs from the President due to his immunity. Hearing has been set for January 18 2013.

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