The High Court in Lilongwe will this Thursday assess damages which leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera should pay Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation George Chaponda over remarks made during the heat of the May 20 Tripartite Elections campaign.
Chakwera, who is also Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, is reported to have told journalists on his return from the United States of America on March 4 2014 at Kamuzu International Airport that Chaponda said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the 2009 general elections because it had national appeal not because of support from the Northern Region.
Chaponda was quoted as having said: “Let me challenge you, we will win in May without people from the North voting for us.”
But the High Court in Lilongwe has found that Chakwera’s claims were libelous, slanderous and damaging to Chaponda’s character and reputation as they implied that the Cabinet minister was a tribalist and did not like people from the Northern Region.
Chakwera’s lawyer, Gustav Kaliwo, did not enter defence which prompted the High Court registrar Justus Kishindo to enter a default judgement in July last year.
In his claim contained in civil cause number 633 of 2014, Chaponda said Chakwera’s remarks had made him be perceived as a tribalist.
“In their natural and ordinary meaning, the words were meant to be understood that the plaintiff is a tribalist, regionalist or one who discriminates [against] people based on their tribe; the plaintiff is irresponsible, dishonest, untrustworthy and a troublemaker intent on bringing chaos in the country,” the claim filed by lawyer Chimwemwe Sikwese reads.
But Chakwera, through his lawyer, denied the allegations and insisted that while he did not make the remarks, there were such media reports quoting Chaponda, which were not denied.
Chakwera also denied that the remarks were meant to make Chaponda to look like a tribalist who discriminates against people based on their tribe.