DPP to sue Yeremia, Malawi newspapers for defamation over Bingu’s wealth

Former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)  says it will take legal action against property evaluator Yeremia Chihana and two newspapers for what it calls “defamatory propaganda” against the late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s family on his deceased estate.

Government through Commissioner for Tax contracted Chihana of YMW Property Investment Limited and Registered Property Evaluator to assess Mutharika’s real estate, shares and stocks, bank balances, chattels and other assets, all for tax purposes.

In a sworn affidavit, Chihana said the former head of state accumulated K61billion within eight years in office and that DPP present leader Professor Peter Mutharika had joint accounts with him outside the country.

But DPP spokesman Nicholous Dausi said on Thursday the party is suing for defamation on the allegations, condemning the “media campaign of deceit” which it claimed is the work of ruling People’s Party (PP).

Peter Mutharika: Denies having join-bank account with Bingu and suing
Peter Mutharika: Denies having join-bank account with Bingu and suing

“The baseless and callous persistence of such outrageous and defamatory propaganda have forced the aggrieved to take legal actions against all parties concerned. These legal actions will be pursued most vigorously,” said Dausi.

DPP also discredited Yeremiah Chihana, that he is not credible to do a valuation report of the late president’s estate, saying  in 2005  (during late Mutharika’s rule) he was convicted by the courts of unlawful wounding.

“He appealed against his conviction in two stages in a competent court of law and lost both times. As a consequence he lost his parliamentary seat six months after his conviction and was subsequently barred the by Electoral Commission from the Parliamentary Elections of 2009. No one can fail to see that under such circumstances, Mr. Yeremiah Chihana must have been very bitter against the Late President Prof Bingu wa Mutharika and the DPP,” said Dausi.

“This bitterness is now being directed at the family after Bingu’s death. The K61 billion figure is purely fictitious.”

DPP said the K61 billion Mutharika’s wealth is based on an affidavit filed by Chihana, saying he stands to benefit enormously as valuators are normally paid a percentage of the total value of an estate.

“The normal procedure is that such valuations are certified by auditors. This was not done in this case. One wonders how credible this valuation is.”

DPP also accuse PP of sponsoring the coverage of such “one-sided” reports.

“Malawians of goodwill are forced to conclude that this must be mere cheque-book journalism under the influence of malicious political pay masters,” said Dausi.

“The aim is to prosecute and convict the deceased Bingu in the media. It is an unfortunate and an unfair political game. They know very well that the late Bingu is in the grave and cannot defend himself. The continued use of late Bingu as a political punch-bag for political ends is callous and evil. It is totally against our culture and traditions. It must stop! They should let his soul rest in peace like all civilized people do.”

DPP claimed the agenda is to “weaken and disable” its presidential candidate Peter Mutharika.

The DPP has also challenged Chihana to produce “notarized copies on official letterheads of all the banks he has listed on the so-called accounts of the late president” within five days from July 18, 2013.

Chihana is being challenged also to produce official records of the so-called properties held by the late Mutharika in the countries he listed.

“Professor Peter Mutharika has never has never had a joint account with the Late President here in Malawi or elsewhere in the world. We challenge Mr. Yeremiah Chihana to produce notarized copies on official letterhead of a bank account in Malawi or elsewhere in the world where Professor Peter Mutharika’s signature appears as a joint owner of such an account. These must be produced within five days from today July 18, 2013.”

Dausi said the Mutharika family will wait for the court’s decision on the case of his estate before it takes legal action for defamation against Chihana and the Daily Times newspaper “ in the invent that Mr. Chihana and the Daily Times fail to produce the evidence and do not retract these allegations.”

He said the issue of alleged joint bank accounts between Prof. Peter Mutharika and Bingu is however not in the courts and  therefore is giving Chihana and the Weekend Nation newspaper five days from July 18 2013, to produce evidence of the alleged joint accounts or retract the allegations on the front page of the said Weekend Nation.

“Failure to do so will result in immediate legal proceedings against Mr. Yeremiah Chihana and the Weekend Nation for defamation of character.”

Dausi said the conduct of Chihana, the newspapers in publishing the false allegations is “a cruel hoax on the Malawi people by the PP government.”

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