Hajat threatens to sue Ntaba

Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) Executive Director Rafik Hajat whose offices were allegedly petrol-bombed last Friday has threatened to sue Presidential spokesperson Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba for libel charges.

The offices are suspected to have been petrol-bombed by Malawi’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth operatives because of Hajat’s hard-knock stance on the party and President Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration.

The incident comes barely a few days after President Mutharika told the nation he was ready to wage war anytime on all his critics.

Ntaba: Says IPI arson was 'inside job'

Civil society leaders have held government and the DPP accountable for the petrol-bomb at IPI offices but Ntaba has countered claiming government and the DPP have information that the incident was an inside job designed to conceal some dirty works at the organization.

“It is the civil society leaders themselves who started accusing government and the DPP youth on the fire…we got some information that this could have been an inside job aimed at destroying evidence on the mismanagement of donor funds by the organization,” claimed Ntaba.

But Hajat denied the allegations saying no funds had been misused by his organization and further challenged Ntaba to contact any IPI donor and prove that the funds were misused.

“This is absolutely false. No funds were misused at IPI, we are a responsible and audited organisation. Ntaba should ascertain his facts before uttering such nonsense.

“He should be prepared to go to court if he continues with the tone of his voice for slander and liberal. I am injured, am bleeding and I can’t tolerate that. And why should I destroy work that I laboured for for several years just to please the agenda of some donor,” said the angry Hajat.

Ntaba said they want the police to thoroughly investigate the issue so that whoever is discovered to be behind it should be brought to court.

Southern Region Police Spokesperson Davie Chingwalu said they have intensified the investigations on the matter to find the real cause of the fire as he refused to ascertain that the offices were petrol-bombed.

Meanwhile, ESCOM technical team has finished its investigations on the issue to establish whether or not the fire started from electrical fault.

However, the corporation’s spokesperson refused to divulge their findings saying they will do so when they are ready to make it public.

Arsonists reportedly broke window panes of IPI offices at Lali Lubani Road located next to Mighty Wanderers Club House and threw in a suspected petrol bomb, according to an eye witness, Samuel Milepa, who lives within the office compound.

Items such as shelves containing books and files, office furniture and computers worth millions of Kwacha were destroyed in the inferno.

This is the second time Hajat, the director of the Institute for Policy Interaction advocacy group, has experienced a similar tragedy with the first of burglary last year.

Hajat, one of the country’s most influential human rights activists was among the key organisers of the July 20 anti-government protests and last week, he and some fellow activists announced the formation of a new lobby group, Forum for the Defense of Democracy (FDD), whose objective is to pressurise government to resolve the problems the country is facing.

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