Former Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) Director General Eddie Mupeso told the Lusaka High court that an agreement was made between ZNBC and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services to be airing the Stand Up for Zambia Documentary by Chanda Chimba III on ZNBC Television.
Mr. Mupeso, 70, a Lusaka businessman testified in the case in which Shikapwasha and his former Information Permanent Secretary are charged for abuse of authority of office over their directing ZNBC management to broadcast the stand for Zambia documentary by Chanda Chimba III on ZNBC TV.
He testified before Resident Magistrate Obbister Musukwa that the agreement was on basis that the Ministry of Information would settle any legal fees that would arise from the broadcasting of Stand Up for Zambia on ZNBC TV.
He said initially ZNBC refused to be airing the documentary because professionally it would lead to litigation and that the corporation only started broadcasting the documentary after discussions that were held with the former Information Permanent Secretary Dr. Sam Phiri and former Information Minister General Ronnie Shikapwasha.
The witness told the court that after some time of airing the Stand Up for Zambia on ZNBC TV they received some summons from lawyers representing the then opposition PF President Micheal Sata who is currently the republican President over the defamatory aspects in the documentary.
Mr. Mupeso said they approached the Ministry of Information about the issues of payments towards the legal fees and they were told that ZNBC should pay the K10m un-re-based to the law firm and that the corporation going to be refunded because the ministry did not have money at the time.
He said another case rose up where ZNBC was sued by Transparency International Zambia hence the corporation had to clear off those legal fees and that the Ministry later gave the corporation a cheque worth K20m un -rebased to refund the corporation as per the agreement that was made between the two parties.
And when asked by the state what role he played in the programme, he responded that he did not play a major role because the decision to air the programme was not taken at his level because it was already in the pipeline as he was only briefed about the programme when he took over office.
And another witness a graphic designer from Zambia Daily Mail Patricia Silupumbwe, 32, testified that the printing of the Stand Up for Zambia Newspaper used to take place at Zambia Daily Mail.
She said Chanda Chimba III used to take a CD to Zambia Daily Mail some time in June 2011 for printing of the Stand Up for Zambia Newspaper and that the first time it was printed it did not come out correctly and Chimba was annoyed with them at the graphics section.
The witness said Chimba III went to an extent of telling them that he felt like killing someone and later called someone on phone and told that person that they were trying to sabotage his work.
She said Chanda III later reported them to the Deputy Managing Director Davies Mataka who later summoned them to his office and warned them that they would be fired if they did not do what the client wanted.
She said the newspaper later came out perfect after Chimba III gave them another CD to work on and that they continued printing it on a weekly basis as it used to come out on Thursdays.
And when asked about who used to pay for the printing services of the paper ,by one of the defence lawyers Major Charles Lisita, she responded that she did not know but assumed that it should have been Chimba who was their client.
In this case General Ronnie Shikapwasha a politician, is jointly charged with his former Information Permanent Secretary Dr. Sam Phiri and Freelance Journalist Chanda Chimba III are charged with abuse of authority of office contrary to Section 99 (1) of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws the laws of Zambia.
It is alleged that on dates unknown but between October 1 and November 31, 2010 Lt Gen Shikapwasha and Dr Phiri, jointly and whilst acting together, arbitrarily and in disregard of defamation laws and ZNBC editorial policy directed ZNBC management to broadcast Chanda Chimba’s documentary namely, Stand Up for Zambia, an act prejudicial to the rights and interests of ZNBC, a public body. Trial in the matter continues.