Duwa Mutharika gags Malawi Broadcasting Corp: Court orders Mvula, Kamlepo against subjudice

Duwa Mutharika-Mubaira and Parliamentarian, Kondwani Nankhumwa have obtained an injunction restraining Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and People’s Party (PP) officials from discussing Commission of Enquiry’s report on the death of late President Bingu wa Mutharika.

MBC, through its television channel, has been running a programme ‘Kauniuni Wa report ya Imfa ya Bingu wa Mutharika’ with a panel consisting its employee, Geoffrey Kapusa and PP’s officials Humphreys Mvula and Kamlepo Kalua as well as activist Unandi Banda.

Through the programme, the panelists discuss in detail the Commission of Enquiry’s report, released earlier this month, while dramatizing how late Mutharika died aside making ‘prejudicial’ comments on the people mentioned although some of them are currently answering treason charges.

Duwa, late Mutharika’s daughter, and Nankhumwa, through their lawyers, obtained the injunction on Saturday March 23, 2013, which was granted by Blantyre High Court Justice Sylvester Kalembera, stopping MBC from repeating, publishing and further publication of the programme by way of broadcast.

Duwa Mubaira-Mutharika: Seeks court respite
Duwa Mubaira-Mutharika: Seeks court respite

According to filed affidavits, the two argued that the programme is a propaganda by PP’s henchmen and loyalists and lacks ‘moral sensitivity and careless’ to Mutharika’s family as well as families of the 11 people arrested on treason charges.

Duwa and Nankhumwa further argued that the programme is likely to prejudice the treason case currently in court, which also involve DPP interim president, Professor Peter Mutharika, several party officials and Nankhumwa himself.

“Following the arrest of my uncle (Peter) and the others, the first defendant (MBC) through MBC Television started running a programme called Kauniuni Wa report ya Imfa ya Bingu wa Mutharika’ that is very insensitive to the family members of the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika as they keep dramatizing the way my father died and it seems they are enjoying the death of my late father which is both annoying and torturous to the family members,” reads Duwa’s affidavit.

Duwa also agued that MBC and the panelists have mounted an organized campaign on MBC TV to influence the treason proceedings before the Lilongwe High Court, adding the analysts involved are PP’s loyalists and their conduct has great potential of influencing case outcome.

She then accused Mvula for already convicting the 11 treason suspects as that ‘is dangerous where the accused are presumed innocent before any court of law and has grave potential of seriously undermining the criminal proceedings’.

Duwa argued her uncle (Peter) may not be fairly tried due to the conduct of the panelists involved in the ‘Kauniuni’ programme.

On his part, Nankhumwa argued that its unfair and unjust to allow Mvula, Kamlepo, Banda and others making comments about the court case when, together with the co-accused, was gagged by the court from making any statement relating to their arrest.

“The continued publication of the material which is subjudice is tantamount to contempt of court and that the said publication is likely to create a substantial risk that the course of justice in the relevant criminal proceedings before the High Court maybe seriously impeded or prejudices”.

Peter Mutharika together with some other DPP top officials which include Nankhumwa, Henry Mussa, Nicholas Dausi, Patricia Kaliati, Symon Vuwa Kaunda were arrested and charged with treason a fortnight ago.

Other also arrested are former Economic and Planning Minister Goodall Gondwe, and former Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) Bright Msaka.

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