LUSAKA mayor Miles Sampa says his letter to town clerk Alex Mwansa that only K60,000 market funds were deposited in the Lusaka City Council account out of the K13 million which was generated in 2019 did not contain any defamatory words.
Sampa has since asked the Lusaka High Court not to grant city market manager Mwenya Matafwali an injunction restraining him from publishing similar words.
This in a matter where Matafwali has sued Sampa and the Zambia Daily Mail seeking damages for libel for alleging that he had stolen more than K13 million which was meant to be deposited in the Lusaka City Council account.
Matafwali is seeking an interim injunction to restrain Sampa and the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper whether by themselves, their agents, servants or otherwise from further publishing the said words or any similar libel against him.
Matafwali is also seeking damages for libel and a public apology by the two defendants in a newspaper, which is widely circulated throughout the country.
But in an affidavit in opposition to the affidavit in support of summons for an order of interim injunction, Sampa said that he did not circulate or publish any defamatory videos on social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp attacking the persona of Matafwali.
“My letter as mayor of the City of Lusaka to the town clerk referred to by the plaintiff did not contain any malicious or defamatory words as alleged but asked for an audit of the affairs of the city [market] management,” Sampa said
He argued that the article referred to dated April 16, 2020 did not contain any defamatory statement attributed to him.
“This is not a proper case for this court to grant an interlocutory order of injunction,” said Sampa.
In his statement of claim, Matafwali stated that by contract of employment dated July 5, 2017, he was offered employment by the Lusaka City Council as manager for a period of three years.
He stated that by letter dated April 2, 2020, Sampa wrote to the Lusaka City Council town clerk indicating that City market generated revenue of K13,626,242.12 in 2019 but only a total of K60, 000 was remitted to the Lusaka City Council main account at Civic centre.
Matafwali stated that in the letter, Sampa reminded Mwansa about the need to notify him (Matafwali) that his contract would not be renewed in July this year when it expires and that he must be moved to any other market around Lusaka with immediate effect.
He lamented that the said words uttered by Sampa and the Zambia Daily Mail meant and were understood to mean to an ordinary member of society that he stole K12 million and he has failed to account for it and was unfit to retain his occupation or employment and should be removed from office.
But in his defence and counter claim, Sampa said Matafwali’s statement of claim relates to a letter which he wrote to Mwansa to investigate the mismanagement of Lusaka City Council market revenue for the financial year ending 2019 amounting to K13,626,242.12.