We reproduce this article to show how government media work when someone is in opposition.
CATHOLIC priest Frank Bwalya is socially wanting and of questionable character and standing in society, the Zambia Daily Mail has observed.
This is according to a defence and counter-claim filed in the Lusaka High Court against Father Bwalya’s defamation of character suit.
The defendants argue that Father Bwalya has never denied fathering a child on the Copperbelt and yet he insists on exhibiting a ‘holier than thou’ attitude towards President Banda and the MMD government on social and political issues.
Early this year, Fr Bwalya sued reporters Angela Chishimba and Wallen Simwaka, former Patriotic Front secretary general Edward Mumbi and the Zambia Daily Mail for defamation of character.
The suit followed the publication of a story in March, regarding Fr Bwalya siring a child on the Copperbelt. The priest is demanding K5 billion in damages.
“When contacted for a comment on the revelation that he had fathered a child, Fr Bwalya did confirm that his child was in Ndola and not in Kitwe,” the claim says.
The defendants also argue that Fr Bwalya has continuously involved himself in partisan politics, spending most of his time denouncing the government and insulting President Banda without any justification.
The defence and counter-claim also says Fr Bwalya has openly campaigned for a political party in Mumbwa, Mporokoso and other parts of the country and has frequently used vulgar language.
“Fr Bwalya has also exhibited dishonesty by claiming to be executive director of Change Life Zambia and using the organisation to gain political mileage, until the truth was discovered.
“The plaintiff’s conduct as a priest has been contrary to the provisions of the Holy Bible. He has disregarded Romans 13 verses 1 to 7 partly stating that “Let every soul be subject to the governing authority. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Whoever resists authority resists the authority of God, for the rulers are not a terror of good works but to evil…”
At trial, the defendants will cite other examples in denial of the plaintiff’s allegations contained in the Statement of Claim and will produce witnesses as and when need arises.
The defendants do not dispute that the articles were published but deny that the said words or articles referred to were defamatory.
According to the particulars of slander raised by the defendants, Fr Bwalya on several occasions between the year 2009 and 2011 uttered disparaging remarks, words and innuendo against the Zambia Daily Mail and its sister paper, the Sunday Mail, describing the publications as not worth reading.
“As a result, the Zambia Daily Mail publications have not enjoyed as wide a readership as some newspapers have, resulting into substantial loss of business.”
Fr Bwalya has also on several occasions uttered disparaging remarks, words and innuendo against the Zambia Daily Mail’s servants or agents, regarding their professional work and calling, thus lowering their professional integrity and standing.
The Catholic Priest’s slander against the Zambia Daily Mail and its servants or agents was understood to mean that the media institution and its journalists are unprofessional, incompetent and totally biased.
As a result, the Zambia Daily Mail and its agents or servants have been lowered in their professional standing in society and suffered injury to their character, reputation and professional standing.
The media institution filed a counter-claim against Fr Bwalya for general damages for slander and aggravated and exemplary damages.
Other claims include interest on damages at current bank ruling rates and costs.
[Zambia Daily Mail]