Malawi: Kenya Exonerates Malawi From Terror Attack Link

22 January 2019

Malawi government through its spokesperson Henry Mussa have confirmed that the Kenyan government has officially communicated to Lilongwe and cleared that no Malawian national was involved in Al-Shabaab which claimed responsibility for the attacks at a luxury hotel in the East African country last week.

South Africa's broadcaster SABC aired a story where an analyst claimed that there was a Malawi connection in the Kenyan terror attack that killed at least 21 people last week and Malawi News, a national weekly, quoted Izak Khomo, who was described a "producer" and "analyst" at the SABC, saying the country was implicated in the Kenyan terror attacks because it had connections with Al-Shabaab

The SABC carries content to other African states in SADC and other African regions through a platform called Channel Africa, giving it an audience that reaches millions of people in the continent.

Mussa, who is Minister of Information and Communication Technology, condemned reports linking Malawi to the terror attacks, and expressed delight that Kenyan government has cleared Malawi on such unfortunate link

"Government wishes to inform the general public that the relevant authorities of the Government of the Republic of Kenya have confirmed that no Malawian national was involved in the 15th January 2019 terrorist attacks at a luxury hotel in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi," reads part of the statement Mussa issued and made available to Nyasa Times.

The statement further reminds all news organisations in Malawi to exercise "utmost care and professionalism" when reporting on matters of national security and interest of any country, including of Malawi.

Mussa said the media should alsi exercise the same measure of professionalism in the choice of words or terms and desist from using terms such as "Malawi, Malawians" haphazardly, "a fact that the Media Houses should know better."

The Malawi Civil Society Led Black Economic Empowerment Movement (MaBlem) on Sunday penned a scathing letter to the SABC demanding that it clarify remarks made by Khomo which caused mass hysteria within Malawi's media industry.

MaBlem has also demanded the SABC to provide evidence on the country's links with terror group Al-Shabaab or else MaBlem would seek legal redress on the matter and call for the channel to be blocked in Malawi if it did not receive a response within the next two weeks.

The letter from MaBlem read: "We write to demand that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) clarify or retract the remarks made by an expert on terrorism linking Malawians especially Muslim Yaos to terrorism. The remarks have negatively affected our nation's image and reputation beyond our borders as links to terrorism is a serious allegation. As Malawians we cannot keep quiet when such allegations are being made by such a reputable broadcaster without any authentication, a thing which has the effect of making the whole world believing the assertions as true."

The organisation was also concerned that the remarks by Khomo at the SABC had the ability to cause hate towards Malawians.

MaBlem further challenged the SABC to further take to task their so-called expert.

The organisation has since requested the ministry of information to order the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to block all SABC channels in Malawi should the latter not issue a disclaimer or retraction and apology within the deadline.

Making further demands from the South African broadcaster, MaBlem said: "The SABC must carry out a full retraction and apology to the Malawi government, the people of Malawi, Malawi Moslems and above all the Yao tribe. The South African Government must join Malawi in this demand as we have so many Yao Moslems that travel to South Africa and the said report might create hate and animosity towards them and even suffer attacks. Malawians are already at risk of xenophobic attack, and the assertions made might fuel further attacks on Malawians."

Neo Momodu, the spokesperson of the SABC commented: "The SABC has noted media reports and enquiries. We are currently investigating the matter, before responding to the relevant stakeholders."

Meanwhile, the Malawi government says it is closely following up and undertaking consultations with the relevant authorities of the Republic of Kenya on the recent tragic incident.

Five militants, including a suicide bomber, stormed the luxury Dusit complex in the Westland's district of the capital last Tuesday, killing at least 21 people and injuring dozens.

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