Activist Chiza Mkandawire disowns Facebook account after Malawi President’s son sues -report

One of Malawi’s vocal social-political activists, Ben Chiza Mkandawire, has disowned a Facebook account under his name after High Court in Blantyre has ruled that he  should pay President Joyce Banda’s son, Roy Kachale Banda, damages for a posting on the social media.

Kachale filed the lawsuit in November last year, after a Faceboom Timeline posting made on November 22, last year that Kachale got K40 million from Paladin Energy Limited.

Mkandawire did not defend the matter and the court made a default judgement in his favour.

According to published reports:

“On November 22 [2012] on the social media network called Facebook, the defendant [Mkandawire] falsely and maliciously published and caused to be published on his Facebook wall concerning the plaintiff the following words:

Chiza Mkandawire: Its a pseudo account

Chiza Mkandawire: Its a pseudo account

“Ben Chiza Mkandawire, “November 22, “This is the official response from the Head of Paladin Greg Walker: after claims from Nawena, I called him[Walker] and asked him [sic] to clarify on the claims that Paladin has made a MK40 million into an account belonging to the son of Malawi’s Vice President (you are free to quote).

“Dear Benchiza,

“It is one thing to make such claims under Parliamentary privileges; another to make it outside the National Assembly. There is no evidence because the accusation is without foundation. Paladin has never and will never pay a bribe or make a political donation to a political party, for that matter.

“My response is always the same: if you have evidence, provide it to the Anti-Corruption Bureau here or the Australian Federal Police…

“Sincerely,

“Greg,” read the documents in part.

After some comments, the documents show “Ben Chiza Mkandawire” also commenting at 6:58pm the same day: “The deposit was actually made to Roy Kachale Banda, that’s according to information Nawena is sitting on.”

Following this post and subsequent comments, Kachale engaged lawyer Gloria Mbendera, who sued Mkandawire, demanding damages, saying the Facebook posting was disparaging.

“The said publication [sic] words were calculated to disparage the plaintiff [Kachale] in his said occupation as the said businessman and at the same time to put him in the bad light in so far as the general public is concerned.

“By reason of publication of the said words, the plaintiff has been severely injured in his credit, character and reputation and in the way of his occupation and has been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt,” read the documents in part, demanding damages and costs for the legal action.

As Mkandawire did not file any documents in defence, the High Court made a default ruling on February 14 this year, ordering him to pay Kachale damages for defamation and costs of the legal challenge.

Mkandawire told Daily Times that he did that deliberately since he is not the owner of the said Facebook account despite using his name.

“He is suing me for something that was on Facebook comments on one of the pseudo accounts which people have created in my name. I am not responsible for what is written on these accounts,” Mkandawire said.

He further said he views the whole lawsuit as cheap and abuse of power to use the courts for things written by pseudo individuals on Facebook.

“Member of Parliament [Lifred] Nawena, using his parliamentary privileges said he was in possession of evidence that implicates a son of the President in bribery [saying] over MK40 million was paid into the president’s son account.

“The case Facebook was abuzz with people repeating exactly what Nawena said, and the name Roy Kachale was mentioned. How is that to do with me? ” Mkandawire said.

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