Forum for Democracy and Development ( FDD) leader Edith Nawakwi says allegations she made against UPND president Hakainde Hichilema are of fair comment and made without malice.
According to a defence filed in the Lusaka High Court in a case in which she has been sued for libel by Mr Hichilema, Ms Nawakwi denied defaming the UPND leader, saying her comment was factual and true in substance as she was merely expressing her opinion.
Mr Hichilema is demanding US$3 million as damages for libel arising from the alleged defamatory words which Ms Nawakwi caused to be broadcast on the Hot Seat Programme on Hot FM and Kwithu FM on August 27, 2020 in relation to the acquisition of a house on Servel road in Lusaka.
Mr Hichilema is also claiming aggravated and exemplary damages and an order directing the defendant to retract the defamatory words.
He is also seeking an order of injunction to restrain Ms Nawakwi, her agents, servants and whomsoever from further defaming him or publishing similar defamatory words.
Last week, Mr Hichilema applied that a judgment in default of defence be entered against Ms Nawakwi for not filing her defence.
However, Ms Nawakwi has filed defence, denying that she defamed Hichilema.
“Save as is admitted herein before, the defendant denies each and every allegation contained in the statement of claim as if the same was particularly set out and traversed seriatim,” Ms Nawakwi said.
She stated that her comment was not defamatory and that she was not the first person to raise the issue of Hichilema’s acquisition of the property of Subdivision No 14/3/A/F488a Serval Road, Kabulonga, Lusaka.
Nawakwi stated that the Post Newspaper Limited (in liquidation) on May 18, 2007 wrote about the said allegations in its editorial, including the Times of Zambia on January 14, 2012.
Nawakwi added that the details relating to the liquidation of Lima Bank Limited are supposed to be a matter of public record and they call for accountability and transparency.
She stated that she conducted a search at the Lands and Deeds registry which revealed that on March 28, 1989, Samson Siatembo mortgaged Farm no. 1924 whose area was 2,415.5580 hectares, in Kalomo district, Southern Province, to secure K10,600 from Lima Bank limited.
“On September 14, 2005, Lima Bank Limited (in liquidation) caused the registration of memorandum of discharge of the mortgage relating to Farm No.1924 whose area was 192.9050 hectares,” Ms Nawakwi submitted.
She further stated that Mr Hichilema acquired the said farm at a consideration of K110,000,000 (unrebased)and the payment of property transfer tax of K3,300,000 (unrebassed) was certified by the registrar of Lands and Deeds on September 14, 2004.
May Nawakwi stated that the assignment of subdivision A Farm 1924 at the consideration of K110,000,000 was registered the assignor being, Feluna Hatembo (administratrix of the Estate of Samson Hatembo), and the assignee being Hakainde Sammy Hichilema, but the search did not reveal any evidence of requisite authority of the court to sell the property.
She further stated that she conducted a search at Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) which revealed that Hichilema was a shareholder and has interest in African life Financial Services Zambia limited, Sanlam Life Insurance Zambia limited, Menel Management Services limited, Tiyende Consortium limited incorporated and Benefits Consultancy Services Limited.
Ms Nawakwi stated that on March 25, 1997, Lima Bank Limited was placed under liquidation and Messrs Edgar Hamuwele and Christopher Mulenga both of Grant Thornton, were appointed as joint liquidators and she will produce evidence at trial relating to the operation of Lima Bank limited (in liquidation) account No.00302400006373 maintained at Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO).
She stated that Mr Hichilema may not have acted as a receiver, manager or liquidator of Lima Bank but Grant Thornton was actively involved in the liquidation process and disposal of assets of the said Bank.
“As a citizen of Zambia, the defendant possess the sufficiency of interest and legitimate concern relating to the plaintiff’s non disclosure of interest. The plaintiff did not disclose at the material time, has not disclosed and continues to resist disclosure,” Ms Nawakwi stated.
She added that it was trite law that the claim for the purported liquidated special damages in a tortuous liability suit was inadequate and legally incompetent.
The defendant further submitted that the endorsement of the particulars of claim for libel on the writ of summons and statement of claim are incompetent.