ECONOMIC and Equity Party president Chilufya Tayali has conceded defaming UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and will within 48 hours clear the latter’s name of fraud allegations over the privatisation process.
This is according to a consent judgment dated August 4, 2021 signed by Tayali and Hichilema through their advocates in a matter where the latter has sued Tayali for defamation.
The Lusaka High Court has authorised the agreement entered into by the parties.
Tayali has agreed that judgment be enforced in favour of Hichilema.
The parties have agreed that Tayali retracts and unreservedly apologises for the defamatory remarks he made against Hichilema on November 15, 2020, as complained of by Hichilema.
Tayali shall render a written apology on his Facebook page in two days after execution of the consent.
“The parties undertake to engage each other mutually as they exercise their freedom of expression. Each party shall bear its own costs,” read the consent judgment.
In this matter, Hichilema was demanding K100 million from Tayali in damages for libel for alleging that he corruptly benefitted from the privatisation exercise by stealing public assets and stripping citizens of their benefits.
Hichilema wanted an interim injunction restraining Tayali whether by himself, servants or agents from further publishing or causing to be published or broadcast the defamatory words or anything similar against him.
Tayali during a press briefing on November 15, 2020 accused Hichilema, who was a transactional advisor to the MMD government during the privatisation process, of stealing among other assets, a house in Chelstone belonging to ZIMCO and depriving a Mr Jere the said property as the sitting tenant and former employee of the said company.
Tayali said that Hichilema should not be aspiring for the presidency but should be in jail, claiming he had gathered evidence from people whom Hichilema allegedly kicked out of employment when he privatised the companies they used to work for without giving them their benefits.
“There is one house plot no. 77/A/609 on Polar Avenue in Chelstone…it was offered to Mr M. Jere and he actually paid for it through SP Mulenga, who were the lawyers. Now what happened thereafter, mysteriously, that house was bought by Mr Hakainde Hichilema for K31,000…how did Mr Hakainde Hichilema buy this house [when] he never worked for ZIMCO? I found out that Mr Norman Mbazima, who was the core liquidator of ZIMCO offered the house to Mr Hakainde Hichilema, depriving a former worker of ZIMCO. Mr Mbazima from there ended up being the deputy chairman of Anglo American and it is believed that Anglo American is one of the biggest sponsors of Mr Hichilema and the UPND,” Tayali alleged.
He further alleged that Hichilema, who was a managing partner for Grant Thornton, failed to declare interest when he allegedly acquired Farm no.1924 in Kalomo, Southern Province which was mortgaged to Lima Bank limited, when Grant Thornton liquidated the said Bank.
Tayali claimed that Hichilema was not clean, was a criminal and he did not want to contest the 2021 elections with criminals.
But Hichilema in his statement of claim contended that the defamatory words in their natural and ordinary meaning were pregnant with innuendo under the guise of a report to the law enforcement officers.
He said the words meant or were calculated to mean that he (Hichilema) was a criminal who deserved to be in jail, a corrupt person of questionable integrity and character and was guilty of offences relating to the affairs if ZIMCO, the liquidation of Lima Bank by selling its assets when in fact not.
In his defence, Tayali pleaded fair comment, claiming the words he uttered against Hichilema were justified and made in good faith without malice on a matter of public interest.
Tayali explained that he was merely expressing his opinion when he said Hichilema should be in jail for corruptly acquiring the properties in question.
He confirmed saying that he did not want to be on the ballot with criminals because he made the said open statement inviting law enforcement agencies to ensure that everyone aspiring for presidency do not have a criminal record, with no specific reference to Hichilema.