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Magistrate declines to review his decision on Kambwili’s application

LUSAKA magistrate Felix Kaoma has refused to review his decision to decline an application by NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili to refer his defamation of the President case to the High Court and Constitutional Court.

In this matter, Kambwili has been taken to court by PF surrogate Peter Chanda for questioning President Edgar Lungu’s association with Lusaka businessman Valden Findlay whom he accused of being a drug lord.

Among the seven questions Kambwili wants taken to the High Court for determination are whether or not the offence of defamation of the President in the manner it has been done under the authority of section 69 of the Penal Code contravenes or infringes his rights to fair trial.

Kambwili also want the court to quash the indictment as the particulars of offence do not disclose an offence of defamation of the President.

Ruling on the matter, magistrate Kaoma said that referring the matter to the High Court was the same as asking them to determine the same questions they have pronounced themselves upon which makes the application frivolous and vexatious.

Dissatisfied with the ruling of the court, Kambwili’s lawyers further made an application for the court to review its decision to refuse to refer the matter to the High Court and the Constitutional Court.

The lawyers wanted the court to determine on whether the action taken by Chanda to commence an action on behalf of the President was constitutional as the proceedings bring the name of the President into disrepute.

“The complainant cannot be bringing actions on behalf of the President because as officers of the court, we have a duty to protect the name of the President. These proceedings are bringing the President’s name into disrepute. This is an opportunity for us to go to the superior courts and argue,” Kambwili’s defence team said.

In response, the prosecution team argued that asking the court to refer the matter to the High Court or the Constitutional Court when the questions have already been determined was an attempt to delay proceedings.

Ruling on the application to review his decision, magistrate Kaoma said that section 69 of the Constitution does not create the manner in which an offence of defamation of the President should be brought to court.

He said Chanda opted to lodge a complaint and not report the matter to the police station.

Magistrate Kaoma said the prayer to refer the matter to the High Court and Constitutional Court was without merit and was frivolous and vexatious because there was no constitutional issue to be determined.

“The application to have the matter referred to the Constitutional Court or High Court on issues they have pronounced themselves upon is an attempt to paralyse the justice system by litigants who do not wish to see their case concluded,” said magistrate Kaoma.

“I find no basis on which to review my decision to refuse to refer the matter to the High Court or Constitutional Court and the application is accordingly dismissed.”

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