Lesbian story scheme by DPP, court grants reporter bail

A story on an alleged engagement ceremony involving two women that appeared in The Sunday Times of 20 May was a desperate attempt by former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to stir a hornets’ nest for President Joyce Banda and throw her on a collision course with either donors or traditional and religious leaders, Nyasa Times can reveal.

Investigations have revealed that agents of the DPP, a Mike Chitenje and a Mr Khan had approached a female reporter (name withheld) with one of Malawi’s major publishing houses, Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL), offering her a bounty of K200, 000 if she published the article.

“The reporter refused, and that’s when they made their offer to Clement Chinoko, who unfortunately agreed to write the article,” narrates the source.

Chinoko: Wrote 'false' story?

The idea behind the scheme was that under pressure from religious leaders and chiefs, the Joyce Banda regime should imprison the two girls which instead would earn the new government wrath of the donors just like they did with late president Bingu wa Mutharika during the arrest of first gay couple to engage.

“The idea being that is that if the Banda administration doesn’t arrest the couple, it would be perceived as condoning the behaviour and earns her and the ruling People’s Party backlash from traditional and religious leaders plus conservative Malawians.”

The source said some DPP leaders are pressuring religious leaders especially CCAP and Catholic church clerics to issue pastoral letter on the issue of the gays and what they think is persecution of the Lomwe people by firing them from top jobs.

“But of course most clerics are happy with the reforms taking place in Malawi and aren’t willing to be Mrs Bands detractors for now, and that’s why the DPP is using leaders of little known churches to condemn the president on gay issue,” said the source.

DPP spokesman Nicholous Dausi strongly refuted that the party is involved in the scheme.

He also said Peter Mutharika’s name should not be “unnecessarily dragged” into the matter.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports indicate that the journalists confessed to his bosses that the said article was “cooked up.”

The newspaper company has reportedly disowned him, letting him face the music alone.

Police spokesperson for the southern region, Nicholas Gondwa said Chinoko has been charged with “conduct likely to cause breach of peace”.

“The article and the names of the women in the story are false. The women were hired to shoot a film but ended up seeing their pictures in a newspaper article as having had same-sex engagement,” Gondwa said.

The Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi chairperson Anthony Kasunda indicated that the matter needs to be investigated thoroughly.

Meanwhile, Blantyre Magistrate Court has given bail to Chinoko who was arrested on Saturday.

Chitenje has since been charged with abating Chinoko to publish the false article.

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