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George Chaponda sues Times Group

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Beleaguered Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, George Chaponda, is suing Blantyre Print and Packaging Limited, Blantyre Newspapers Limited and some of its staff in connection to stories and comments on the suspicious maize deal between Malawi and Zambia.

The summons came two days before President Peter Mutharika’s appointed Commission of Inquiry presented its report on the controversial maize deal on Saturday.

The retired chief justice Anastasia Msosa-led commission found Chaponda’s conduct in the deal “most inappropriate, suspicious and raising issues of corrupt practices.”

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But in a Civil Cause number 55 of 2017, Chaponda is claiming damages from Times Group’s Editor-in-Chief and Malawi News, Editor George Kasakula, The Daily Times Editor Innocent Chitosi, The Sunday Times Editor, Chachacha Munthali, Times Reporter Alick Ponje and The Daily Times Assistant Editor Madalitso Musa.

“On the 28th day of January 2017, the 1st, 2nd 3rd and 6th defendants falsely and maliciously wrote and printed and published or caused to be written, printed and published on pages 1 and 2 of the 28th January to 3rd February 2017 issue of ‘Malawi News’ news paper defamatory words of and concerning the plaintiff,” the summons reads in part.

The summons also faults The Sunday Times for positioning Chaponda’s picture against the headline ‘Epitome of Decadence” on an opinion in the people which according to the documents was calculated to portray Chaponda as a morally rotten person.

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“By reason of the premises set out in paragraphs 13 and 14 hereof, the Plaintiff’s image and reputation as a public official and individual has been lowered and brought into public scandal, Odium and contempt,” the summons read.

Chaponda has since claimed damages for libel, exemplary and aggravated damages for libel and legal costs.

Kasakula has, however, said the group stands by all its stories and that it will not stop exposing the rot in government’s dealings.

“We stand by all the stories and commentaries we have written on the maize scandal in general and Chaponda in particular. We have done nothing wrong. We firmly believe in telling Malawians how badly they are being governed and how badly their affairs on food are being managed by those they entrusted with power,” Kasakula said, adding that “We will face Chaponda in court as he wishes”.

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