CAROLINE KALOMBE, Lusaka
THE Lusaka High Court has removed President Lungu and Patriotic Front (PF) secretary-general Davis Chama from a case in which United Party for National Development (UPND) president has sued them and Bishop Edward Chomba for defamation.
High Court judge Mwila Chitabo yesterday ruled that President Lungu and Mr Chama were improperly joined to the proceedings.
In this case, Mr Hichilema has sued President Lungu, Mr Chama and Bishop Chomba for alleged defamation over a statement that he is a freemason and Satanist.
In a ruling delivered in chambers yesterday, Mr Justice Chitabo said the President and Mr Chama were wrongly joined to the proceedings as they did not utter the said defamatory words nor publish the defamatory materials complained of.
“I have no difficulty to hold that there is no cause of action against the first and second defendants. These defendants were wrongly joined to the proceedings; they neither uttered nor published the defamatory material complained of,” Mr Justice Chitabo said.
He said President Lungu did not utter the said defamatory words and neither did he publish them, hence there cannot be any tortuous liability against him and Mr Chama adding that there cannot be liability by mere association by sharing a podium with Bishop Chomba.
Mr Justice Chitabo also found that Mr Hichilema in his complaint did not state that President Lungu and Mr Chama uttered the defamatory words attributed to Bishop Chomba.
He noted that Bishop Chomba also disassociated President Lungu and Mr Chama from the complained utterances adding that the defendants cannot be liable by mere association and sharing of a podium.
He further discharged the interim injunction which he granted to Mr Hichilema restraining President Lungu, Mr Chama and Reverend Chomba whether by themselves, their agents, servants or anyone from further uttering or publishing or causing to be published any defamatory words against him.
Mr Hichilema is claiming general and exemplary damages for defamation of character and interest at current commercial banking lending rate.
He is also claiming a declaration that the utterances complained about violated the electoral code of conduct and was therefore illegal and unfair during campaigns.
Mr Hichilema is further claiming other reliefs and costs that the court shall deem fit.