Malawi former president Joyce Banda is said to be considering the legal options against Minister of Informations Kondwani Nankhumwa as suggesting publicly that Banda and co-conspirators should be arrested and investigated for the murder of Bingu wa Mutharika, her predecessor .
Though Nankhumwa referred to Banda only as “JB”, that is evidently what she is called in Malawi, Banda is contemplating a lawsuit against Nankhumwa.
Banda’s spokesperson Andekuche Chanthunya , a UK trained lawyer himself, said the former president was consulting legal minds on the next step of action and is shocked with such defamatory claims.
“We take note that Nankhumwa speaks on behalf of the Cabinet, therefore, what he said we believe was agreed by the Cabinet, including the President who is the head of that Cabinet,” claimed Chanthunya.
But President Peter Mutharika, who did not comment on Nankhumwa’s claims during the Bingu Memorial when he spoke after him, has since disowned the government spokesman’s statement as his personal views.
Nankhumwa claimed Bingu was assassinated by people who were desperate to rule the country and that evidence of the plot to kill him is contained in a document titled ‘JB Project’.
But law experts have said Banda was indeed defamed.
Malawi law scholar Sunduzwayo Madise in his article posted on Nyasa Times argued : “The fact that JB was not mentioned by name is non consequential. The inference in the minds of all right-thinking people is that it was JB who was behind the death of Bingu. And yes, for it to be murder there would have to be a motive. The implication here being that JB would have a good motive to take over as president!
“Now I hope Kondwani understands the law of defamation properly. Innuendo is as much defamation as calling a person by their name. So by referring to an alleged statement made by a ‘Veep’ and in the same sentences throwing in the JB acronym, the damage is done.”
The minister made the allegations last Saturday at Ndata Farm in Thyolo during the memorial service of the former leader who died in April 2012 due to cardiac arrest.
There were suggestions at the time, never proven, that he might have been overexerting himself with a female MP of the ruling party Agness Penemulungu who was having an audience with Bingu at the time of his heart attack.
University of Malawi (Unima) political science experts have also faulted Nankhumwa for his claims according to quotes in The Nation, a daily newspaper.
“Probably what they were doing is testing public opinion, just to get a feel of how the public would react. And basing on the public reaction so far, it is probably what may have forced the President to take that direction,” noted associate professor at Unima’s Chancellor College, Blessings Chinsinga.
Another Chancellor College political scientist, Happy Kayuni, said : “It is unfortunate development, sometimes our politicians rush to utter very serious statements of this nature without full evidence or facts on the ground. Otherwise the President should have been in the forefront agreeing and commenting on the matter.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :