Minister of Information and Communications Technology Henry Mussa has demanded Malawi News to retract its sensational story that Malawi is implicated in a recent terror attack that claimed 21 lives in Kenya, which has been widely condemned by Malawians commenting on social media.
The story headlined ‘Malawi implicated in Kenyan Terror, cites a South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) producer and analyst Izak Khomo’s analysis in which he claimed that Malawi was connected to the attack in Nairobi, Kenya last Tuesday.
But Mussa, who is also government spokesman, said the State is disappointed by the “kind of journalism” by Malawi News.
“The paper quotes contents of a programme aired on SABC claiming that there is a Malawian connection to the recent terrorism and other previous terror attacks in Kenya adding that some of the Jihadists Al-Shabab are recruited from the Yao community in Malawi.
“The Malawi Government wonders how the Malawi News could proceed to publish such a story based on someone’s opinion or analysis and not facts,” Mussa said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times.
“We expected the paper to treat the opinion as a news tip for further investigation in order to establish the truth of Malawi’s connection to terrorism,” he added.
Mussa said it is the considered opinion of the government of Malawi that the article represents “all ill intentions against mother Malawi and the public interest. “
Government, said the minister, condemn “this kind of journalism in its strongest terms.”
Mussa said the government demand an immediate retraction of the story “in its entirety” and appealed to media in Malawi to insist on professionalism at all times without compromise.
“We all belong to Malawi and we need to nurture her for posterity, Government wishes to call upon all Malawi citizens to maintain vigilance, unity and loyalty to mother Malawi and not be divided by these trends of irresponsible journalism.”
Mussa assured Kenya that Malawi does not condone terrorism in any form and by whosoever commits it.
Minister of Health, Atupele Muluzi, who a Yao also added his voice, posting on his Facebook page: “The Yao people as with all Malawians are a peaceful and tolerant people. For generations our country has been seen as an example of integration across Africa.”
Muluzi commended Mussa’s statement for “standing clear on what is an unsubstantiated allegation.”
He wrote: “As a proud Yao and as Minister of government I wholly support this statement and hope that Editors of Malawi News look again at ensuring they have credible and verified stories, particularly for such serous issues as terrorism.”
Muluzi added: “Of course my overriding thoughts are for the families of those killed in these terrible attacks. The UDF stand firm in support of the government of Kenya in their continue fight against terror in all its forms.”
Geneva-based Malawian and social commentator, Stanley Onjezani Kenani, said he has agreed with Malawi government on its statement.
Kenani also asked the paper to withdraw the headline.
“You can do better than this. This headline needs to be withdrawn on a front page with an apology. There are far-reaching consequences when a country begins to be associated with terrorism,” he opined.
Meanwhile, Council of Muslim Theologians in Johannesburg, South Africa has written to South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in connection to its news report that implicated Malawi.
Media liaison officer for Council of Muslim Theologians, Uthman Chilungo has asked SABC’s general manager Njanji Chauke to confirm if this was the actual SABC News broadcast.
“We have been alerted to a video clip which is purported to be an SABC News interview of an expert who makes remarks pertaining to the Somali-based Al Shabaab,” says the letter. “As the video plays, the supposed expert is heard claiming the terror group’s ties and recruitment among Muslims in general and the Yao people of Southern Malawi in particular.
“Please confirm if this was the actual SABC News broadcast [and] if so, note that we have found the remarks made by the supposed expert frivolous, troubling and lacking veracity.
“We will appreciate if we would be allowed to engage the said expert so that we can share in his research leading to the conclusions he has made. We also look forward to an opportunity of a right of reply to the comments the said expert has made,” said the letter.
The newly-launched Chibanja Cha aYawo Cultural Heritage chairman Abdul Aziz Yasin said the Yaos have no business whatsoever in terrorism.
“Malawians are peaceful people and Muslims are very peaceful people and to allege that Muslims of the Yao origin are involved in such malpractices is very unfortunate,” Yasin said .
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