Minister of Agriculture George Chaponda has taken legal action against Blantyre Newspapers Limited and some of its employees over stories its newspapers published in connection to the maizegate scandal.
Chaponda is suing Times Group Editor In-Chief George Kasakula, The Daily Times Editor Innocent Chitosi, Sunday Times Editor Chachacha Munthali, Times Reporter Alick Ponje and The Daily Times Assistant Editor Madalitso Musa.
Blantyre Newspapers Limited which publishes Daily Times, Malawi Newspapers, and Sunday Times reported extensively on the maize procurement deal from Zambia.
But in his summons, Chaponda found fault in the Malawi News issue of 28th January to 3rd February 2017 claiming some of the defendants falsely and maliciously wrote and printed and published or caused to be written defamatory words of and concerning him.
In the summons for the civil case, Chaponda also claims that The Sunday Times positioned his picture against the headline “Epitome of Decadence” on an opinion article which was calculated to portray him as a morally rotten person.
The summons claim that Chaponda’s “image and reputation as a public official and individual has been lowered and brought into public scandal, Odium and contempt.”
Chaponda is therefore seeking damages for libel, exemplary and aggravated damages for libel and legal costs. Meanwhile Times Group has vowed to meet Chaponda in court saying the media house stands by all its stories on the maize scandal.
“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,” Times Group Editor-in-Chief Kasakula said.
On Saturday, a Commission of Inquiry on the maizegate scandal said it had found Chaponda’s conduct in Malawi’s procurement of maize from Zambia suspicious and called for further investigations on the minister.