20 February 2015 – The following statement was issued by lawyer Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Partners LLP (London, United Kingdom):
The practise of knowingly publishing completely false information under the guise of news reporting has become such a severe problem in Zambia that we are approaching a dangerous threshold, where not only criminal liability becomes an issue, but also where the quality of civic debate and freedom of expression are becoming endangered.
This is not a question of publishing perspectives, opinions, or criticism of public figures and factual events which are covered under free speech, but rather the total fabrication of imaginary events which did not even take place.
A few days ago I signed an open letter to the editor the Zambian Watchdog website denouncing just a few of the recent fictitious articles published there, which were not only misleading, but can openly be verified as falsehoods.
The most recent example of completely false propaganda being passed off as “news” is the article titled “More details of Lungu, Henry Banda, and RB arms deal with French Company” published on 20 February 2015 on Zambian Watchdog. The article is not only laughably absurd with its fictional details and impossible scenarios, it also serves a very specific political agenda on behalf of a party seeking to damage the good name of the Banda family.
Let us be clear: my client Mr. Henry Banda has absolutely zero connection to the companies named in this smear, and has conducted absolutely no business whatsoever with the past or present Zambian government. It is a well documented fact that previous claims regarding alleged investigations against Henry Banda have proven to be non-existent. Henry Banda has never been charged nor convicted of any wrongdoing by any competent legal body.
We wish to put on notice Mr. Lloyd Himaambo, the owner and editor of Zambian Watchdog, that these continued unethical practices will result in action. We also serve notice to the known financiers of the website that secondary liability for damages shall be explored.
International counsel to His Excellency the Fourth Republican President Rupiah Banda and Mr. Henry Banda