Malawi Police summoned Nyasa Times journalist Watipaso Mzungu on Tuesday and held him detained at Area 30 Police headquarters in Lilongwe, interrogating him over a story published online on 1st April 2021 that quoted head of Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiative (Cdedi) Sylvester Namiwa who called President Lazarus Chakwera a joker and a time waster.
Mzungu, a chief reporter for Nyasa Times, was summoned by director of CID at national police headquarters Emmanuel Soko.
He was being quizzed why he quoted the statement from the organisation that had what police say disparaging comments criticising President Chakwera.
Police claim the story on Nyasa Times intended to undermine the authority of the Head of State.
Namiwa was reacting to Chakwera's flip- flopping on cabinet assessment and reshuffle.
National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera has not yet commented on the matter.
Police say Nyasa Times journalist by quoting Namiwa was also criminally insulting Chakwera.
He was asked to submit the story he filed to Nyasa Times before it was edited and the original statement Namiwa sent.
In the story published on April 2, 2021 , Namiwa claimed that the postponement of the release of the new Cabinet has vindicated his organization's fears that Malawians have "have a time waster and a joker in the high office of the presidency".
"It was on 19th February 2021 when social media outlets were all awash with photos of Dr. Chakwera and the Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima, apparently scrutinizing the Cabinet. On Tuesday, 30th March 2021, the State House was quoted as having announced that a cabinet shake-up was in the offing and that a new list of cabinet ministers would be announced within 24 hours. Come Wednesday, 31st March 2021, President Chakwera tells Malawians that he still needs more time to scrutinise the results of the cabinet assessment report which was submitted to him by Dr. Chilima a few days ago," said Namiwa.
He reminded Tonse Alliance government that Malawians were tired of the comedy acted by the people they elected to spearhead the national socio-economic transformation agenda.
"What Malawians are anxiously waiting for from the two leaders are results, results, and results, and not jokes befitting Fools Day, which is 1st April," said Namiwa.
Nyasa Times management said it stood in solidarity with Mzungu, who "has shown throughout the years his commitment to a journalism free of any allegiance."
The authorities have since been asked to fulfil their duty to protect the right to freedom of expression and to immediately stop harassing journalists.
Mzungu has since been released by police unconditionally.