THE Lusaka High Court has rejected Chiluya Tayali’s justification for his alleged defamatory remarks against Justice Minister Given Lubinda.
Mr Lubinda, in May 2016 as Agriculture Minister, sued Tayali for defaming him and Food Reserve Agency (FRA) director Chola Kafwabulula.
Mr Tayali is alleged to have accused the two of running a cartel at FRA, claiming that they had amassed over K720million from the sales said to belong to the Zambian people who had been buying mealie meal at unaffordable prices.
And High Court Deputy Registrar Twaambo Musonda entered a default judgement ordering Mr Tayali to pay damages to Mr Lubinda because he (Mr Tayali) had not defended himself on the matter.
Mr Tayali, however, pleaded with the court to set aside the default judgement, arguing that he had a defence and was desirous to provide evidence to the court.
He stated in his application to set aside the judgement in default of defence and appearance that he had written to Mr Lubinda suggesting that the matter be solved out of court but after being availed with documents for assessment of damages he realised that Mr Lubinda was not interested to have the matter settled out of court.
But the court in its ruling, dismissed Mr Tayali’s application stating that there was no basis upon which it would exercise its discretion to grant Mr Tayali’s application. He said Mr Tayali should have demonstrated that he had a defence on the merits through the provision of prima farcie evidence. “As already established, the defendant did not exhibit a draft defence, from which his defence on the merits could be inferred.
“Indeed the demonstration of an arguable defence on the merit was required. It was not enough to simply state that he had evidence and a defence and, thus, wished this matter to be heard on its merits. I find no merits upon which to exercise my discretion to grant the defendant’s application,” the court said.