Malawi: Court Orders MBC and Macra to Give Callista Content

The High Court in Blantyre has ordered public broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) to hand over all content pertaining to the broadcast recordings in which Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secretary general Grazeldar Jeffrey claimed former first lady Callista Mutharika killed her husband former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika.

Last year Jeffrey during DPP rally on 2nd June 2018 in Thyolo District allegedly claimed that Callista was responsible for Mutharika's death, prompting the former first lady to file a lawsuit demanding damages amounting to K500 million from Jeffrey and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) for damages.

Justice Mike Tembo issued the order following application by Callista's lawyer, Ambokire Salimu.

Salimu made the application when the case had resumed for Scheduling Conference under Order 14 of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules to map out the time frames within which certain tasks would have to be done before a trial date.

In his application, Salimu prayed to court that MBC and Macra to produce all content for both TV and radio for the day in issue, and the Court hassince ordered the two institutions to do so within 14 days from Tuesday 16th July,2019.

In an interview Salimu said: "The Court has also granted our prayer that a notice be served on Macra requesting them to produce all MBC TV and radio content for the day in issue. The notice to be served within 7 days from 16th July,2019. And Macra to comply within 14 days."

Callista Mutharika is demanding damages from both Jeffrey and MBC for the slander in respect of the defendant's utterances at a DPP's rally.

She argues that as a result of the defendants' defamation, her character has been vilified and continues to suffer contempt and odium as an alleged killer of her husband.

Callista claims the words by Jeffrey Munthu uja anapha Bingu ndi mai uja Callista, Callista anapha malemu Bingu chifukwa chosowa khalidwe [The person who killed Bingu is Callista, Callista killed Bingu due to her 'evil' behaviour]-- as quoted in the court documents--have no justification.

Jeffery is being represented by Burton Mhango of Mhango and Company while MBC is represented by Gondwe Attorneys. Both lawyers are yet to respond to the court order.

Callista is one of the people that spearheaded the movement within DPP that led to then vice-President Saulos Chilima to form his own party, UTM.

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