Deputy Minister of Transport and Public Works Charles Mchacha has apologised for swearing at a journalist who was investigating Mchacha’s purchase of public land in Blantyre.
Mchacha apologized to the journalist Bobby Kabango today at Nation Publications Limited offices in Blantyre.
According to MISA Malawi, Mchacha said he respects journalists and appreciates the role the media plays in a democracy.
“It was sad that we failed to understand each other and handle the situation well. So, I am here to apologise to my friend [Bobby] and the entire Nation management for the words I uttered to Bobby Kabango,” Mchacha said.
Both Mr Kabango and NPL Deputy Chief Executive Officer Alfred Ntonga accepted the apology.
Speaking during the meeting, MISA Malawi National Governing Council (NGC) member Mandy Pondani appealed to the minister, other ministers and government officials to be exemplary and uphold and respect human rights, including media freedom and freedom of expression.
“You hold senior public positions and your conduct should befit those positions. As journalists we also work to promote public good and we want to feel safe when doing our work. It’s intimidating and scary when senior government officials attack instead of protecting us,” Pondani said.
Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) Chair Robert Mkwezalamba and NPL officials were present during the meeting.
Last week, a recorded audio of the conversation between Mchacha and Kabango went viral on social media. In the audio, the minister screamed various expletives at the journalist and called him a “dog” and “monkey”
Mchacha repeated the obscenities several times, challenged the journalist to record the conversation and threatened to confront the Kabango at his office.
“I hurl expletives when I feel I am wronged. I am Mchacha. I do not have ambition to become president or vice president. Even if I become an ordinary person, I do not care because I do my own business,” he said.
Later, MISA Malawi demanded an apology from the deputy minister saying his actions were a violation of media freedom and freedom of expression.
The organization also asked Minister of Information, Honourable Mark Botomani to assure the nation that Mchacha’s actions were not a reflection of government policy to threaten and intimidate journalists.