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Mutharika pressured over supporters’ conduct on Chaponda’s arrest

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MEDIA Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi chapter has asked President Peter Mutharika to intervene and stop the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters from intimidating and harassing journalists covering corruption case involving the former minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda.

The DPP followers intimidated and used foul language against photojournalists who were trying to take pictures of Chaponda after the DPP vice president for the Southern Region and Director of Transglobe Produce Export, Rashid Tayub were granted bail on Thursday afternoon.

In a statement that Misa Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga signed and released on Friday night, Misa describes the barring of journalists from covering the case as retrogressive and detrimental to media freedom.

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Misa Malawi has therefore appealed to President Mutharika, as leader of the DPP and defender of the Constitution, to ensure that the party supporters do not continue barring journalists from covering the case.

“Such action will safeguard and protect constitutional guarantees on media freedom and freedom of expression as provided for in the Constitution,” Ndanga said.

She said court sessions are public and the media has a duty to cover and inform Malawians on developments around the arrest of Chaponda and how the matter is unfolding.

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According to Ndanga, the case in question has generated nationwide interest and the behaviour of the DPP supporters denies Malawians access to information on what exactly happened in the procurement of maize from Zambia.

“Barring the reporters from covering the case is therefore not only a direct breach of the provisions of Section 36 of the Constitution but also an infringement on Malawians right to know,” she said.

Chaponda and Tayub were arrested on Wednesday and spent the whole day at the AntiCorruption Bureau regional office in Blantyre for interrogation on their involvement in the suspicious maize import from Zambia to the tune of K26 billion.

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