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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

MHRC condemns crackdown on journalists

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has expressed its dismay with media reports that investigative journalist, Gregory Gondwe is receiving threats form Malawi Defence Force (MDF) and some government officials.

The threats follows a story  that he wrote and published on the Platform for Investigate Journalism ( PIJ) for unearthing corruption scams involving top MDF commanders and some government officials in connection with Zuneth Sattar arms deal that took place in Dubai.

The Commission has also taken note the threat of Malawi News reporter, Mercy Matonga who also wrote a similar story and is receiving threats as well.

In its scathing statement to the authorities, the human rights body says press freedom is a fundamental right that allows journalists and media organizations to report and communicate information without censorship or interface from the government or other entities.

“Press freedom accorded to journalists and other people in the media allows for a space where public functionaries are held accountable and this helps to facilitate public disclosure and safeguard democracy in the long run.

 Freedom of the press is a prerequisite for good governance because it serves as check on potential abuses of power and helps to uncover wrongdoing,” says statement that has been signed by its chairperson counsel Chikondi Chijozi.

The Commission has therefore condemned any threats directed towards the press and journalists in the long country while reminding those in authorities that Malawi is a signatory to various international conventions to fight corruption, both in the United Nations system and regional system.

The Commission has therefore asked the Malawi Police to investigate the alleged threats against Gondwe and Matonga and make sure that both are protected from any harm.

Gondwe reported a bombshell scandal that implicates MDF officials for paying to a firm associated with businessman Zuneth Sattar who is currently under scrutiny for alleged corrupt practices.

In the report, it is alleged that army officials paid K8.4 billion as part of a deal amounting K33.6 billion for the procurement of 32 Armored Personal Carriers ( APC)

But government through Minister of Defence, Harry Mkandawire has rebuffed the story as fake aimed at throwing mud at Lazarus Chakwera’s government for political reasons.

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