Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera and Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda have ordered the arrest of investigative journalist Gregory Gondwe for revealing recent payment made to a businessperson of Indian origin accused of corruption and money laundering.
The tycoon is said to have forced President Chakwera to caution Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director, Martha Chizuma, following a leak that the President was non-committal in fighting corruption and possibly shielding the suspects who had given gifts to State House and cabinet ministers.
Arbitrary arrest of journalists reinforces Chizuma’s concerns that the Executive branch was shielding suspects accused of corruption and money laundering.
Gondwe, who is managing director of Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ), was arrested this morning and he is being held at Southern Region Police Headquarters.
“Police told him he is under arrest but are yet to formally charge him. Our lawyers are working towards releasing him,” said his colleague Golden Matonga.
He described the arrest and detention as well as confiscation of PIJ equipment as a blatant and thuggish abuse of power by the state.
“It’s aimed at eroding media freedom by intimidating journalists and crucially, whistle-blowers. The arrest comes after the Attorney General Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda threatened to take action over a leak of a document we used in our recent story. We DEMAND immediate release of both Gregory and our gadgets,” he said.
In a statement this afternoon, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera claimed that Gondwe was being “interviewed” by Police in relation to ongoing investigations police are conducting regarding an online news story published by PIJ and other related issues.
He added that when the interogation session is over, Gondwe will be allowed to return home.
The leaked document which PIJ published on its platform was legal opinion of Chakaka Nyirenda to ACB, allowing Malawi Police to make a payment of over K1 billion to the Asian businessperson.
Nyirenda over the weekend threatened to take legal action against those responsible for the leakage.