By Mwaka Ndawa
UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s lawyer Edward Mbewe has asked the Lusaka High Court to set aside the defence by Economic and Equity Party leader Chilufya Tayali in a matter he sued him for defamation, for non-compliance to court orders.
In this matter, Hichilema sued Tayali demanding K100 million as damages for libel for alleging that he corruptly benefitted from the privatisation exercise by stealing public assets and stripping citizens of their benefits.
Hichilema wants an interim injunction restraining Tayali whether by himself, servants or agents from further publishing or causing to be published or broadcast the defamatory words or anything similar against him.
In his defence, Tayali pleaded fair comment, claiming the words he uttered against Hichilema were justified and made in good faith, without malice on a matter of public interest.
Hichilema in his reply to Tayali’s defence said he had an issue with the same.
In an affidavit in support of composite summons to strike out defence, in the alternative to set aside the defendant’s bundles of documents or extension of time for compliance with orders for directions, Mbewe said Hichilema would be prejudiced if Tayali’s bundle of documents are allowed.
He said on April 22, 2021, the court issued orders of directions whichi provided for inspection of documents on March 13, 2021 and May 11 he wrote to Tayali’s lawyer’s inviting them for the inspection of documents.
Mbewe said by letter of reply dated May 13, 2021, which arrived on the day of the inspection itself, Tayali’s lawyer Jonas Zimba said he was not available for the scheduled inspection and requested for an alternative date before May 28, 2021.
“The request by the defence was untenable as we were unavailable in the period he was suggesting and I engaged him via telephone to which I proposed that we enter into a consent order for enlargement of time within which to comply with the orders for directions to which he agreed and requested that I draft and send him (Zimba) the consent order for enlargement of time for his attention when I am available,” Mbewe said.
He stated that by letter dated May 18, 2021, he enclosed the draft consent orders for enlargement of time and served them on the defendant’s advocates.
“That to my utter shock, while I was expecting the signed or at least edited consent order from my colleague, I was instead served with a letter dated May 31, 2021, enclosing the defendant’s bundle of documents,” Mbewe said.
“I believe that the plaintiff stands to be prejudiced if the bundles were allowed without the due process of inspection and I also believe that my colleagues ‘pulled a fast one on me to sneak in questionable documents’ by giving the impression that we were going to do the right thing of enlarging the time to facilitate compliance with the orders of directions with regards to the discovery.”
Mbewe said as a result of the aforesaid misunderstanding, Zimba could not file the plaintiff’s bundle of documents in accordance with the dates in the orders for directions.