14 July 2014

Tanzania: Kafulila Faces Sh310 Billion Defamation Litigation

INDEPENDENT Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) and two others have sued Kigoma South Member of Parliament (MP), David Kafulila, demanding 310bn/- damages for alleged issuance of defamatory statements against them.

Other plaintiffs are Pan Africa Power Solutions Tanzania Limited (PAP) and the Executive Chairman for the two companies, Mr Harbinder Sing Seth. Through advocate Augustine Kusalika, the plaintiffs filed their suit at the High Court in Dar es Salaam, last week.

They are demanding 210bn/- being compensation following defamation allegedly made by the opposition NCCRMageuzi ticket MP and loss of business image and IPTL and PAP companies. They are also seeking for an order requiring the lawmaker to apologise for his remarks.

Furthermore, the plaintiffs are demanding 100bn/- being general damages for the inconvenience and disturbance which they allegedly suffered following the defamatory statements made by the outspoken opposition MP thereto. They also demand costs of the suit and payments of interests.

It is alleged that IPTL executed a contract with Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) of supplying power and the former had been discharging her obligations as agreed in the contract. Following a dispute on payments, the parties opened an account at the Bank of Tanzania (BoT).

As a result, all the money payable by Tanesco to IPTL were deposited in that bank account called Escrow Account, pending resolution of the dispute and upon finalisation of the same, the BoT was required to release the money from the account in question.

"The matter was finally concluded and the first plaintiff (IPTL) was ordered to collect the aforesaid stated amount which was under the supervision of the Bank of Tanzania (BoT)," reads part of the plaint of the suit.

Surprisingly, the plaint shows, without any justification, the MP in different occasions and outside the Parliament decided to disseminate to the social media defamatory statements against IPTL and Mr Seth in that the duo had illegally obtained the money from the Escrow Account.

"Through Jamii forums, Tweeter and facebook, without any justification whatsoever, the defendant (Kafulila) informed the public that IPTL has been involved in the dirty deal and obtained money from Escrow Account illegally," another part of the plaint states.

It is alleged that the acts by the MP to disseminate the information of the company to the public on involvement of IPTL in foul deal has caused the general public to believe that it has indeed involved in stinking transaction for obtaining money from the account at the Central Bank.

"Further, that act of the defendant to publish IPTL to the public on involvement of dirty game has caused loss or diminish of image and reputation of the first and second plaintiff companies (IPTL and PAP)," it is also claimed in the suit.

The defendant being MP has immunity from any legal action to the matters which have been demonstrated during parliamentary proceedings.

However, the plaintiffs allege, the claimed defamatory statements were disseminated outside Parliament sessions. It is further claimed that the acts by the legislator to inform or to publish to the public that IPTL has misused public funds from Escrow Account which was under BoT supervision has not only diminished the plaintiff, but also has caused loss to its business.

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