Malawi court orders ‘prejudicial’ MBC programme off air: Mutharika’s daughter granted permanent injunction

State-controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) TV and Radio has been issued with a permanent restraining order by the High Court to stop airing a programme relating to the Commission of Inquiry report into the death former president Bingu wa Mutharika.

The High Court judge, Sylvester Kalembera issued the order on Monday following application by ate president’s daughter Duwa Mutharika-Mubaira  and DPP parliamentarian Kondwani Nankhumwa.

MBC introduced ‘Kauniuni Wa report ya Imfa ya Bingu wa Mutharika’ programme on results of a Commission of Inquiry into events surrounding the death of Mutharika last April. The MBC programme which has been ordered off the air has partisan personalities Humphreys Mvula, Kamulepo Kalua and Unandi Banda as panelists.

The court ruling means MBC can no longer broadcast its programme anchored by Geoffrey Kapusa.

Nankhumwa: Permanent injunction granted
Nankhumwa: Permanent injunction granted

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 and Nankhumwa, through their lawyers, were first given temporally injunction on Saturday March 23, 2013, stopping MBC from repeating, publishing and further publication of the programme by way of broadcast, pending court review on the matter.

They argued that the programme was morally insensitive and tortuous to Mutharika family members and the rest of the people who have been charged with treason.

They also observed that the program is “highly prejudicial” to the case and rest of the suspects charged with treason. They are said to have conspired to prevent then vice president Joyce Banda from assuming power..

And making his ruling  Justice Kalembera upheld Nankhumwa and Duwa’s application, saying the programe lacks ‘moral sensitivity and careless’ .

The court noted that the programme was likely to prejudice the treason case currently in court, which also involves DPP interim president, Professor Peter Mutharika, several party officials and Nankhumwa himself.

In her affidavit, Duwa complained that the programme was very insensitive to Mutharika’s family as the panelists dramatized the way late Mutharika died, saying “and it seems they are enjoying the death of my late father which is both annoying and torturous to the family members”.

Duwa also argued 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.

On his part, Nankhumwa argued that it’s 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”.

Professor Peter Mutharika together with some other DPP top officials which include Nankhumwa, were arrested and charged with treason.

Other suspects include former ministers Patricia Kaliati, Henry Mussa, Symon Vuwa Kaunda, Jean Kalirani, Goodall Gondwe and former chief secretary to government Bright Msaka and his deputy Necton Mhura.

One suspect Allan Ntata was charged in absentia as he is reported to be in United Kingdom.

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