By MILDRED KATONGO
BELARUSIAN business executive Alexander Zingman has threatened to sue News Diggers, a tabloid, for alleged defamation.
In two stories on May 28 and 29, this year, the publication had alleged that he was involved in some “defence-related deals” across Africa, had business connections to President Edgar Lungu, and even State Capture.
Mr Zingman is now fighting back against these “false allegations that aim to damage my personal reputation.”
In a statement issued yesterday he said that “these unsubstantiated claims and accusations are designed to mislead the general public and are completely false, treacherous and libellous.”
He is represented by a legal team of the international law firm Squire Patton Boggs.
They have sent a letter of claim to News Diggers, demanding that the newspaper removed the articles from its website, including the e-Paper version, within two working days.
The legal notice gave an ultimatum to News Diggers that it “must confirm from where or whom you obtained the photographs of our client, provide the text of an apology to be published on your website, for agreement by our client, cease and desist from publishing any further untruthful and defamatory comments (whether oral or written) about Mr Zingman.”
The letter warned the tabloid that if it failed to comply, “our client reserves the right to issue proceedings against you/or News Diggers for an order for the removal of the article, an appropriate sum in damages to acknowledge the loss and damage caused to our client’s reputation, and in respect of any financial loss he may suffer.”
The two News Diggers stories misused old photos of Mr Zingman, who heads AFTRADE DMCC, the official representative of several Belarusian manufacturers in Africa, meeting with President Lungu and other officials. The articles tried to create an impression of “questionable deals,” but contained no facts or proof, only rumours based upon the photos.
In fact, Mr Zingman actually met President Edgar Lungu and other officials to push for a landmark tractor deal with Belarus.
Through AFTRADE DMCC, Zambia was setting up a tractor manufacturing plant, which would boost food production and food security of the country, accelerate mechanised agriculture and create more than 100 jobs.
In addition, the development would earn foreign exchange through the export of tractors to countries such as Malawi and Mozambique.
“It is strange that News Diggers neither mentioned this important industrial deal nor reached out to Mr Zingman or any of the other officials for an explanation or verification before publishing the fake information.”
The statement stated that Mr Zingman was not only active in Zambia, but that he conducted business in many African countries, including Mozambique, Nigeria, Angola, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Togo and Zimbabwe (where he holds the position of Honorary Consul of Zimbabwe to Belarus), developing partnerships in the fields of mining, road construction, transport, agriculture and logistics.
Referring to the economic challenges the continent was facing in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis, Mr Zingman recently said: “During these difficult times, Belarus stands by its African partners and is ready to help rebuild their economies.”