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Malawi President Peter Mutharika challenges critic Allan Ntata in Court

President Peter Mutharika says enough is enough to his fierce critic Allan Ntata and wants to face him in court. The Malawi President is said to have sued Allan Ntata and the Nyasatimes for defamation and wants to be paid damages.

 

Allan Ntata was legal adviser to the President’s elder brother, Bingu WA Mutharika, who ruled the country from 2004 until his death in April 2012.

 

 

In a lawsuit filed at the High Court in Blantyre Thursday, the President also wants a court order to restrain Allan Ntata and Nyasatimes from further publishing the issue of K92 billion Cashgate which is purported to be linked to the Bingu administration.

 

According to court records Nation on Sunday has seen, Ntata published an article on Nyasatimes on June 22 this year, alleging the President is implicated in the K92 billion Cashgate.

 

He further claimed in the article that the President was delaying to release forensic report of the K92 billion Cashgate under his late brother’s eight-year rule because he was involved, according to the court records.

 

The President, according to the court record, said Ntata wrote on his Facebook page that a Mrs Sadiq of HTD allegedly defrauded government close to K20 billion on bogus purchases of motor vehicles and that President Mutharika is closely linked to and associated with HTD and the bogus payments could be linked to him.

 

President Peter Mutharika, in the lawsuit filed by Tembenu, Masumbu & Company, said in their natural and ordinary meaning of the published words, they meant he [the President] is engaged in fraud and corruption.

 

The President claimed: “[The words also mean I am] engaged in dubious transactions with HTD…involved in the looting of public purse from Capital Hill known as Cashgate. In consequence, [my reputation] has been seriously injured.”

 

The Malawi President is said to be in pursuant of his case to support the claim for exemplary damages, he would rely on facts that the defendant (Ntata) and the publisher of Nyasatimes based in the United Kingdom, published or caused to be published the said article knowing they were false or reckless, not caring whether they were true or false.

 

He said they calculated the benefits to them in terms of increased circulation that was going to outweigh any compensation payable to the President.

 

Mutharika said: “Unless restrained by this Honourable court, the defendants and each of them will further publish or cause to be published the said or similar article defamatory of the plaintiff.”

 

It is on this basis that Mutharika, apart from seeking damages for defamation, is seeking an injunction to stop Ntata and Nyasatimes, their servants or agents, from further publishing or causing to be published the said defamatory article of the plaintiff.

 

Once served with the court summons, Ntata and Nyasatimes would be commanded to within 14 days satisfy the claim or return to the court the accompanying acknowledgement of the service.

 

If no response is made, the President may proceed with the action and judgement may be entered against the plaintiffs without further notice.

 

The Germany Government funded the forensic audit of the K92 billion believed to have been siphoned from Capital Hill during the Bingu regime.

 

Germany provided K9.76 billion for the audit exercise which was prompted by a 2011 interim investigative audit report of government’s payment system—the Integrated Financial Management and Information System (Ifmis)—which revealed that ministries and departments may have lost about K92 billion through abuse and irregularities between 2009 and 2012.

 

The K92 billion interim report, first exposed by us in October 2013, also details how the money was allegedly lost or mismanaged through seven irregularities involving specific financial transactions.

 

The calls for a comprehensive probe into the K92 billion issues followed on the heels of the Baker Tilly audit exercise that exposed how about K24 billion was wantonly stolen from Capital Hill between April and September 2013 under the administration of Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP).

 

But the money that was siphoned from government coffers has now reached K577 billion from K92 billion after the scope of the investigations was extended to cover two regimes of Bingu and that of Joyce Banda [from 2009 to 2014].

 

Cashgate revelations shook the country’s donor confidence, leading to an immediate freeze of budgetary aid, a situation that forced government to adopt expenditure control measures that have seriously affected public service delivery.

 

Government is currently prosecuting over 60 cases in the K24 billion Cashgate trials and it has secured convictions in some cases, including that of former principal secretary of tourism, Tressa Senzani.

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