University Zambia lecturer Sishuwa Sishuwa has donated to Kabwata orphanage the K30, 000.00 that was paid to him as damages for defamation by former Zambia’s ambassador to Ethiopia Emmanuel Mwamba.
“I pledged to donate all the money paid to me as damages by Emmanuel Mwamba for defamation. In the interest of transparency, I am happy to state that I have donated it to Kabwata orphanage in Lusaka. The orphanage is addressing real problems in Zambia and deserves our support”, Dr Sishuwa tweed.
“It is important to honour our word. As I said, the key thing for me was not the money, but the need to promote content-based discussion, to have civility and decency in our public exchanges, and to raise both the level and quality of public debate.
“Kabwata Orphanage has been doing vital work for the last 25 years. The organisation represents much that is good, wholesome, ethical, and moral. I thought of making a donation if only to assure them that their efforts are greatly appreciated not only by me but by many people. I also admire the integrity and efficiency with which they use resources to establish services and directly support the running of a successful orphanage and foster care program”, he wrote.
And in a letter to Kabwata orphanage director Angela Miyanda, Dr Sishuwa said the vital work that the orphanage has been doing reminds him of how he was raised.
“I admire your diligent efforts to improve the world around us by providing services such as education, shelter, health, nutrition, love, and security to orphaned and other vulnerable children in our community. The work that you do reminds me of how I was raised – through the generosity and kindness of other people – and is essential to helping the children reach their full potential in life”, he wrote in a letter dated 20 July 2022 shared on his twitter page.
“When I think of all the people you have helped already, and the vast number of people still in need, I feel not only deeply grateful for your vision, but also strongly compelled to help support your good cause. To this end, I am honoured to present your orphanage and transit centre with this monetary donation of ZMW30, 000.00.
“I hope the donation provides at least a small amount of assistance toward the continuation of your services.
“Thank you for all that you do.”
In March 2021, Dr Sishuwa wrote an opinion piece in News Diggers on the then eroding democracy, lack of freedoms and potential for unrest after the elections titled, “Zambia may burn after the August election. Here is how to prevent this”. The article was republished a few days later in South Africa’s Mail & Guardiannewspaper.
In a response published on his Facebook page, ambassador Mwamba alleged that Dr Sishuwa’s piece was a “paid for opinion” and that he could “even guess who paid for that Op-Ed article in the Mail & Guardian”.
He also accused Dr Sishuwa of being a frustrated member of an unnamed political party or sympathiser of a certain political leader who was destined for defeat by the then ruling Patriotic Front in the August election.
In a letter to Mwamba dated 29 March 2021, Dr Sishuwa stated that neither he nor the Mail & Guardian received any payment for publishing the article. He requested the diplomat to retract his “defamatory and false” claims and apologise within 48 hours or face legal action.
Following the expiry of the ultimatum, Dr Sishuwa sued Mwamba for defamation on 20 April 2021. A week later, the former permanent representative to the African Union wrote to then Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja, asking him to charge and arrest the academic for sedition.
Mwamba stated that Dr Sishuwa’s criticism of the government “is dangerous as it can incite people to rise against it”. A conviction on sedition carries a minimum sentence of seven years in jail.
The threat of sedition charges against Dr Sishuwa caused local and international outrage.
Last month, Mwamba through a consent judgement with Dr Sishuwa that was endorsed by the Lusaka High Court, agreed to pay nominal damages in the sum of K30, 000 to the UNZA lecturer for defamation.
The former diplomat further undertook to pay K50, 000 to Dr Sishuwa’s lawyers, retract his defamatory article, and apologise to the UNZA academic on his Facebook page, Mwebantu, Smart Eagles, Ask Muvi Tv, and in both News Diggers and the Zambia Daily Mail newspapers.
“Should the Defendant fail, refuse or neglect to perform any of his obligations under this judgment within thirty (30) days from the date hereof, the Plaintiff shall be at liberty to enforce this judgement without further recourse to the court and may levy execution in respect of any sums payable by the Defendant under this judgment or any part thereof which may still be outstanding”, read the consent judgement dated 14 June 2022 signed by justice Ruth Chibbabbuka.
In the wake of the consent judgement, the academic publicly pledged to donate all the proceeds from the case to charity.
“It should never have come to this; all I ever wanted was a retraction and an apology for the false and defamatory statements that harmed my reputation. For me, it was never about money, all of which I will donate to a charity or orphanage of my choice”, Dr Sishuwa wrote on his Twitter page in June following the consent judgement.
“It was about raising the quality of public debate and promoting content-based discussion. I believe that those who welcome praise must also accept criticism, provided it is devoid of slander, libel or defamatory content. Having claimed and exercised my freedom of expression, I am only all too aware of the right of others to exercise the same free speech on any matter, including when commenting on my public commentaries. Being human, it is natural that we will have varying lines of thought.”