- He argued that he is not a struggling leader of an insignificant party seeking to gain popularity by disparaging the UPND leader but that he is a concerned citizen on a matter of public interest.
By GRACE CHAILE-LESOETSA
CHILUFYA Tayali has told the Court that his alleged words that Hakainde Hichilema corruptly benefitted from privatisation of state assets were not defamatory but a statement of truth.
He said he uttered words as fair comment on a matter of public interest.
Mr Tayali, who is Economic and Equity Party (EEP) president, said he has conducted an investigation and had documents to back his allegations and denied allegations of defamation.
In this matter, Mr Hichilema has sued Mr Tayali in the Lusaka High Court for alleging that he corruptly benefitted from the privatization programme.
Mr Hichilema, the United Party for National Development (UPND) president, is seeking an injunction to stop Mr Tayali from talking about his role in the privatisation process.
He is seeking damages for libel, aggravated and exemplary damages and an order directing Mr Tayali to retract the defamatory words.
Mr Hichilema said Mr Tayali is a struggling leader of an insignificant political party that attempts to gain its popularity by disparaging him.
He said he has never acted as receiver, manager or liquidator of Lima Bank as alleged by the EEP president nor did he acquire farm number 1924, Kalomo.
Mr Hichilema said he bought the Kalomo from the estate of the late Samson Siatembo through his heirs and assignees as will be demonstrated at trial.
But in his defence filed yesterday in the Lusaka High Court, Mr Tayali said the words uttered were justified and were a fair comment, made in good faith and without malice on a matter of public interest.
He denied that the words were pregnant with innuendo and were calculated to mean in their natural and ordinary meaning as ascribed to by Mr Hichilema.
Mr Tayali contend that he will at trial show that there is no law requiring that an individual must make reports to law enforcement agencies in confidence.
He said he will also show at trial that there are indeed unanswered questions regarding the infamous Avenue property and the Kalomo farm.
Mr Tayali stated that he did not assert that Mr Hichilema should be barred from contesting the Presidency.
He argued that he is not a struggling leader of an insignificant party seeking to gain popularity by disparaging the UPND leader but that he is a concerned citizen on a matter of public interest.
“The defendant avers that the words complained of were fair comment on matters of public interest namely the privatisation of state owned enterprises and the abuse of the said privatisation for personal gain,” Tayali contended.
The EEP leader justified his statement as fair comment stating that Mr Hichilema knew about the sale of farm No.1924, Kalomo from the co- liquidators or the liquidation manager as it was still mortgaged to Lima Bank by the late Samson Siatembo during the liquidation period.