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Minister loses case

By BENNIE MUNDANDO
THE Supreme Court has dismissed Kabwata Member of Parliament Given Lubinda’s appeal in a case in which he was seeking damages against alleged libel from the Daily Nation.
This is a matter in which Mr Lubinda in 2014 had sued the Daily Nation and Mr Edwin Lifwekelo for criminal libel as first and second respondents respectively in the High Court seeking damages.
Sometime in 2014, Mr. Lubinda was quoted as having said that the opposition to the ruling party in Zambia was weak and this prompted a response from Mr. Lifwekelo, who was then UPND publicity and information secretary, which was published on May 18, 2014, in the Daily Nation, headlined “UPND writes off Lubinda.”
Among other things, Mr. Lifwekelo alleged that Mr. Lubinda’s previous comment was motivated by his desire to be reappointed as a minister. He said the ruling party and
Mr. Lubinda himself were no longer popular and that he was attempting to rejoin the UPND as he was sure that the PF would lose the next elections.
The Daily Nation published another story from Mr. Lubinda in which he replied to the allegations by Mr. Lifwekelo.
However, Mr. Lubinda then dragged both Mr. Lifwekelo and the Daily Nation seeking damages for libel, describing the article as malicious and injurious to his reputation.
But the High Court dismissed Mr. Lubinda’s case saying, among other things, the words complained of did not have the effect of lowering Mr. Lubinda’s reputation in the estimation of right thinking members of society.
Mr. Lubinda however appealed to the Supreme Court on grounds that the Court had erred both in law and fact by holding that Zambians have accepted that politicians could cross over to another political party at will without
suffering any serious disapproval from many Zambians, thereby disregarding the law and decisions of the Court on defamation of politicians.
He also contended that the High Court erred in both law and fact when it held that if one or two people hold such a politician in contempt, hatred, and ridicule, it could not amount to a reflection of society generally, when there is no evidence before court to support the court’s position.
He also contended that the High Court erred in law and fact when it concluded the offensive statement was provoked by him in his private and personal character and also in his political character as the person to whom the statement attribute did not defend the veracity of the statement.
He also said the court erred in law and fact by awarding costs to the respondent.
But in delivering judgment, the Supreme Court knocked down all the four grounds of appeal presented by Mr. Lubinda for lacking merit and dismissed it.
“Since all the four grounds of appeal are bereft of merit, the appeal is doomed to fail and we so hold and dismiss it. We accordingly vary the decision of the learned High Court judge to the extent that we set aside the award of costs in that Court to the first respondent. He is not entitled to costs because he did not take any steps in the direction of defending the action in court.
“In regard to the costs in this court, these will lie where they fall because, although the event is in favour of the two respondents, they did not take any steps in defending the appeal. They, therefore, incurred no costs whatsoever,” reads the judgment in part.

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