AN attempt to suggest that President Edgar Lungu received US$140, 000 from a Chinese company in Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela’s graft case has backfired.
A CRIMINAL complaint agaisnt the News Diggers has been lodged by PF Member Chanoda Ngwira at the Lusaka Magistrates Court to cite the tabloid for contempt of court for allegedly misrepresenting facts.
The tabloid yesterday reported that Mwangala Sikombe, an administration manager at First National Bank (FNB) testified in the Lusaka Magistrates Court that in July 2016, China Harbour transferred about US$300, 000 to Andrew and Partners, a law firm that allegedly handled financial transactions on behalf of Mr. Chitotela.
This is in a matter in which Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister, Ronald Chitotela and three others are facing four counts of concealing and being in possession of properties suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Among other things, the paper claimed that US$ 140, 000 was paid to someone identified as Lungu C when in fact there was no such claim as the money was paid to a consultancy firm, Lungu Sim.
It reported that Ms. Sikombe said after receiving US$299, 895 from China Harbour, Andrew and Partners transferred US$140, 000 to someone only identified as “Lungu C” among other transactions. But according to an affidavit in support of a complaint against the News Diggers, Mr. Ngwira described the publication as a fabrication which went against the evidence on record and meant to sway the court into believing that Mr. Chitotela had committed a crime, yet the matter was still active.
“The allegation that Honourable Chitotela’s lawyers received US$300, 000 was never said in court as the record will show that what was said was that China Harbour sent the money to Andrew and Partners who, for the evidence of doubt, are not appearing on record as Honourable Chitotela’s lawyers.
“The position in paragraph 8 (that US$140, 000 to someone only identified as “Lungu C”) is incorrect, (and is) a creation of the 1st accused (reporter) and meant to influence the court into believing that there was a Lungu C involved in the transaction if any, when there is nothing on record to support such a statement,” reads the affidavit in part.
He described the allegation as false, defamatory, and malicious and that as a result of the said publication, Mr. Chitotela’s name had been put into disrepute and that it lowered his image in the eyes of the public.