LUANSHYA resident Fred Maanya says he did not call Millennium radio and uttered derogatory remarks against President Edgar Lungu during a phone-in programme, claiming his friend was using his phone during the hour in which he is accused of insulting the President.
This is in a matter where Maanya is facing a charge of defamation of the President.
It is alleged that on March 28, 2019, Maanya, in Lusaka, with intent to bring the name of the president into ridicule, published insulting matter by word of mouth when he called the radio Station where he introduced himself as Chanda from Kabwe and later used derogatory remarks against President lungu.
Opening his defense before Lusaka chief resident magistrate Lameck Mwale, Maanya explained that on the material day around 06:00 whilst he was sleeping, his housemate Aaron Zimba asked for his phone.
Maanya said Zimba, who had nocked off from work during the said hour, told him that he needed to call someone but he did not have airtime.
“He (Zimba) got my phone and walked out of the house. He spent 30 minutes on phone and when he returned, he told me that he overhead people in the area saying that someone had insulted the President on radio,” Maanya said.
“When I heard that someone had insulted the President, I felt very bad. I never called Millennium radio to insult the Head of State my phone was with my friend, I wouldn’t know if he was the one who called the radio station.”
During cross-examination by state prosecutor Stuyvesant Malambo, the accused confirmed that he was in Luanshya on the said date and not Kabwe.
When asked if his friend phoned Millennium radio and insulted the President, Maanya said he wouldn’t know because Zimba walked out of the house.
Asked why he did not bring Zimba as his defense witness, Maanya said he did not have money to carter for his transport but if the court insists that Zimba appears before it, he will provide transport for him.
Maanya was asked why he couldn’t challenge the evidence by Millennium radio station manager Martin Akende, the accused said he was not given a chance to give his side of the story.
“I couldn’t rebut the evidence by Millennium radio staff as it was not my time to give the side of my story,” he said.
According to Akende, Maanya whilst making his contribution in Bemba first commended the President for his intentions to reopen Mulungushi textiles and he later posed a question if it would be a good thing for the President to reconsider opening mulungushi textiles.
“I asked the caller when the president would go to Kabwe, he went on to say ‘ba Lungu bukala bwabo, panyo’. I cut the line, this shocked us, myself and my colleagues were confused and we opted to go for a break. After recess we issued a disclaimer relating to the remarks that were uttered by the caller,” said Akende.
Maanya’s lawyer Mulambo Haimbe sought an adjournment in order to secure Zimba’s attendance as a defence witness.
The matter comes up on March 24.