Minister Kaliati threatens journalist Gondwe – Misa Malawi

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) has issued an alert after Malawi’s Information and Civic Education Minister, Patricia Kaliati, threatened to attack a journalist Gregory Gondwe.

Misa said Kaliati, who is Malawi government spokesperson, accused the journalist of  having a “vendetta against her personally and the people from her region, the same region where Malawi president, Bingu wa Mutharika hails from.”

Gondwe irked Kaliati after he shared an article which mentioned her and other ministers on a cabinet assessment report done and published by The Sunday Timesin its 26 February 2012 issue. He had shared the report with fellow media parctitioers on Misa Malawi internet discussion forum.

Kaliati: We don't come from same region

Kaliati, who scored a low 2 out of 10 herself, trashed the report and went further to describe The Sunday Times as an “unsuccessful” newspaper.

According to the media watchdog, Kaliati issued a ‘veiled’ warning to Gondwe, saying she would attack the journalist since they did not hail from the same region in Malawi.

Gondwe told Misa: “Starting from yesterday [Sunday 4 March], a private call has been prodding on my mobile phone and I ignored the call since I don’t normally respond to callers with hidden identities. This morning [Monday 5 March] around 5AM the calling resumed. I ignored the calls for a while until I decided to answer.”

Added Gondwe: “My reluctance was confirmed when I discovered that the caller was none other than…Honourable Patricia Kaliati. According to the minister, I am trying to fight people from Mulanje (the minister’s home village) and I hold a vendetta against her because I wrote about her when she was not the only minister who scored 2 out of 10 in The Sunday Times report.

“She then sent a veiled warning that this should be the last time that I am stepping on her toes, apparently because we are not from the same place. This, aftershe had used foul language on me.”

Misa said in the statement that it“is gravely concerned about the condescending behaviour” of Kaliati towards journalists.

“If such behaviour from a whole minister is symptomatic of the Malawi government’s growing intolerance of media freedom and freedom of expression then we shudder to think what plight will befall journalists and media professionals alike at the hands of junior public servants and quite possibly, people with links to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).”

The media body encouraged the minister “ to make active use of MISA-Malawi and the Media Council of Malawi to air out any concerns she might have regarding what is published or broadcast by the media in Malawi.”

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