Following reports that President Peter Mutharika served Nyasa Times court summons through the press for alleged defamation, the online publication has indicated that it intends to mount “a vigorous defence” and believe the matter will help the battle to fight wrongful self-enrichment in Malawi.
In a lawsuit filed at the High Court in Blantyre, the President is seeking damages and also wants a court order to restrain his fierce critic Allan Ntata and Nyasa Times from publishing further revelations on the K92 billion Cashgate linked to the Bingu wa Mutharika administration.
Ntata was legal adviser to the President’s elder brother, the late Bingu wa Mutharika, who ruled Malawi from 2004 until his death in April 2012.
Mutharika sued because Ntata’s article which was also posted on various media networks including social-media platform Facebook, was published on Nyasa Times on June 22 this year, alleging the President is implicated in the K92 billion Cashgate.
He further claimed in the article that the President was delaying to release a forensic report of the K92 billion Cashgate under his late brother’s eight-year rule because he was involved.
The President, according to the court record, said Ntata wrote on his Facebook page that a Mrs Sadiq of HTD allegedly defrauded government close to K20 billion on bogus purchases of motor vehicles and that President Mutharika is closely linked to and associated with HTD and the bogus payments could be linked to him.
Mutharika, in the lawsuit filed by Tembenu, Masumbu & Company, said in their natural and ordinary meaning of the published words, they meant he [the President] is engaged in fraud and corruption.
Nyasa Times Media Group CEO Edgar Chibaka and Editorial Director Thom Chiumia in a statement on Tuesday said the media company intends to mount a “vigorous defense” against the suit.
“We have not seen the summons but we hope we will get a copy of the newspaper service and lodge our vigorous defence,” Nyasa Times statement said.
The online publication also laughed off at reports that President Mutharika failed to serve the company the court summons, saying their email and phone contacts and addresses are known to the President, his press office and his lawyer James Masumbu including all cabinet ministers.
Masumbu also served Ntata court summons through substituted service in daily newspapers.
Ntata took to Facebook , saying he was “surprised” to read that “a whole president, with all the resources at his disposal can claim to the High Court that he cannot trace Z Allan Ntata, when, as many Malawians including Presidential Press Secretary Gerald Viola, know that Ntata has been in the country for almost 6 weeks now.”
He wrote: “The President probably thinks that lying to the court in this manner will buy some sort of public sympathy and portray to the public that Ntata is on the run or something and that service of the President’s lawsuit against him should be done via the media.
“But isn’t this failure to locate just one individual who is clearly right here in Malawi, presenting a public lecture, doing TV and Radio Interviews and meeting numerous government officials, and yes, including meeting with his Press Secretary just another display of the president’s incompetence?”
Germany provided K9.76 billion for the audit exercise into the K92 billion which was prompted by a 2011 interim investigative audit report of government’s payment system—the Integrated Financial Management and Information System (Ifmis)—which revealed that ministries and departments may have lost about K577 billion through abuse and irregularities between 2009 and 2012.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :