Malawi papers not cowed by DPP threats on Bingu’s estate: More than K61bn

Despite threats from former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)  to take legal action against  two newspapers for what it calls “defamatory propaganda” against the late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s family on his deceased estate, there continues to be reports on  former president’s wealth with the latest that the estate is beyond beyond K61 billion (about $152m) after full assessment.

DPP spokesman Nicholous Dausi threatened that the party is suing for defamation Nation Publication Limited and Times Media on what it called the “media campaign of deceit” which it claimed is the work of ruling People’s Party (PP).

Dausi said the legal actions will be pursued “most vigorously,” against Daily Times and the Weekend Nation was given five days from July 18 2013, to produce evidence of the alleged joint bank accounts between Prof. Peter Mutharika and Bingu or retract the allegations on the front page of the said paper.

But the papers have neither apologized nor retracted the stories.

Yeremiah Chihana: It's more than K61 billion for Bingu's estate
Yeremiah Chihana: It’s more than K61 billion for Bingu’s estate

In show of sticking with their stories, Nation Publications has been carried follow up stories in its titles.

On Saturday, the Weekend Nation quoted lawyers representing the Estate Commissioner, Lusungu Gondwe, and lawyer representing Mutharika’s daughters, Kalekeni Kaphale, confirming the drop of the initial estimate of K61 billion to K51 billion.

But on Monday, The Nation reported that Yeremiah Chihana, an evaluator of the deceased estate of late  Mutharika, said the wealth of the estate is expected to go beyond K61 billion (about $152m) after full assessment.

Though the drop to K51 billion (about $127m) appears on some court documents prepared and filed, according to the lawyers, Chihana said that did not come from his evaluation and could be a fruit of miscalculation, according to the paper.

He said recent discoveries show that Mutharika had houses in Singapore and some property in the United States of America (USA), arguing there is no way the estimate would go down.

“It will be more than K61 billion. The former president had houses in Singapore and some property in the US; I did not include that in my initial evalutation. It’s not only this, there is more property that was left out and we will include all that.”

He said there are also houses Mutharika bought from Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) and paid K40 million, and remained with some balances, saying it is an issue that was being sorted out.

Meanwhile, Chihana  through lawyer Wapona Kita is counter suing the DPP and its spokesperson Nicholas Dausi for defamation demanding a combined compensation of up to K200 million (about $500 000).

Bingu wa Mutharika died of cardiac arrest on April 5, 2012.

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