VP sues paper for defamation on coup claims

By Thom Chiumia, Nyasa Times

Malawi Vice President Joyce Banda has sued a ruling DPP sponsored propaganda newspaper, Eye Witness, for defamation.

The paper has been writing articles of disparagement against the Vice President. Recently, it published a story claiming Banda was plotting to overthrow government.

Banda described the report as “serious allegation.”

“Anybody who sits down and cook up a story like that that whole John Tembo can be my vice president and Hon Atupele Muluzi a minister – it’s an insult to Malawians intelligence,” said Banda in an interview with Straight Talk programme on Capital FM.

Joyce Banda: No coup, I have sued

She said the information  which has gained currency on state MBC radio was a “cooked  up story.”

Banda also said the “little newspaper” misinformed its readers when it reported that retired politician Gwanda Chakuamba had refused to support her.

“Chakuamba called me to express shock when he read it,” she said.

“I have gone to court suing the newspaper,” said Banda.

The Vice President said she has sued on the allegations that she plotted a coup.

“I just want them to come up with proof because they said they have proof,” she said. “ You organise a coup in a kitchen?”

Traditional news outlets, Daily Times, The Nation, private radios and independent online  media have not carried the ‘cooked up’ news on the coup.

Malawi Assassination plots
The first alleged attempt on the president’s life was in 2005 and two UDF lawmakers were arrested for treason. The case fell apart when they were charged with sedition instead.

A year later, another plot to kill wa Mutharika was foiled and again the world was told that two senior UDF members and a member of the ruling party were behind the alleged plot.

But before the case was concluded, the president appointed one of the accused to his Cabinet and acquitted the other.

The next plot involved Vice-President Cassim Chilumpha. He was accused of hiring South African assassins to kill wa Mutharika.  The trial is in process.

Another coup plot was cooked accusing former president Bakili Muluzi and  brigadiers Juvenalis Mtende, Marcel Chirwa and Cosgrove Mituka.  It also involved retired army general late Joseph Chimbayo and former police chief Joseph Aironi.

Muluzi, who ruled the southern African nation from 1994 to 2004, had been shown documents by police which linked him to the coup plot, but he denied any knowledge of the documents.

The former president said the documents were “laughable and fake”, saying they were fabricated and a ploy to intimidate and silence the opposition.

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