Times Group today sank further into the cesspool of gutter journalism when it rushed to publish a malicious story against Malawi Electoral Commission CEO Sam Alfandika.
It is unlikely that the media house will go scotfree this time because the damage they have caused is colossal.
The story on Treasury’s payments of K4 billion to MEC CEO account was clearly intended for the media house to support the incitement of hate and violence which MCP and UTM are perpetrating against the MEC.
This is further supported by the revelation by MEC in its statement reacting to the story that when the reporter Jameson Chauluka contacted the elections’ body on Sunday, he was advised to visit MEC offices on Monday to collect documents to support his story before publishing it.
But Times rushed to publish it, apparently out of the knowledge that the documents would weaken their intention to spread lies against the MEC and not support the political position of MCP and UTM.
The story is not a piece of investigative journalism. It is a sensational piece by an incompetent reporter. Cheered on by hate-filled and anti-government propagandist editors, Chauluka based his story not on facts but on a leakage of a cheque by those aligned to MCP/UTM political interests.
It is common knowledge that MCP and UTM filed a petition against Presidential results of the May 21 election but they have been struggling to find evidence for their case.
Instead they have resorted to attacking MEC Chair Justice Jane Ansah and commissioners and staff and judges that are hearing the case.
They have also been organizing violent demonstrations to bully the legal processes of the case.
They have been claiming that MEC staff were bribed to twist the elections figures in favour of President Mutharika. They have so far failed to prove this allegation.
This Times story was the latest of their tricks to try to provide proof. And this is one of their fatal weaknesses. MCP and UTM have been amateurish in this election. They have been bringing what they call evidence of electoral malpractice to social media and papers that have no judicial role to play instead of to MEC and the courts.
This cheque story is part of what they think is evidence and instead of taking to court, they take it to the media.
But in addition, this one also fails as the matter has been cleared by MEC.
However, it is the latest of their propaganda to spread hate against MEC and incite public anger. That is why it extensively quotes a series of lies said by MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka about the cheque.
But in their passion to promote opposition political agenda, Times have dragged themselves into a situation that could sink them if those affected by its malicious story were to act.
In reaction to the story, there has been an avalanche of attacks of the character of MEC and Alfandika on social media that he used the money for personal benefit – which is incorrect.
The attacks against him have included mass circulation of a picture of mansion they claim Alfandika is building for his daughter in Blantyre using the money. It turns out that there is no connection whatsoever between Alfandika and the mansion.
But a more serious attack has been directed to FDH Bank. Times story has ahugely damaged the image of FDH Bank where the account in question is domiciled. The attackers have been circulating graphics of FDH Bank with captions that risk hurting its business and existence. The captions include ‘Join Us! Close Your Account with FDH Bank’, ‘FDH Bank Must Fall’ and ‘Account Closed’.
Institutions such as banks are so particular about their image because it does everything to their business.
FDH Bank is known to have worked hard from scratch to be proven to be one of the fastest growing and most efficient local banks in Malawi. Times sensational journalism is certainly damaging to its hard-earned business profile, especially considering that the Bank has done no wrong in the matter.
Anywhere, Times would be heftily punished for its scandalous reporting!