Human rights activists have demanded the resignation of Malawi Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda over the arrest of journalist Gregory Gondwe.
The activists have also accused Nyirenda of frustrating Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma so that she should abandon some corruption investigations.
Activists Phunziro Mvula of Social Revolution Movement, Gomezgyani Nkhoma of Mzuzu Youth Caucus, Sylvester Namiwa of Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) as well as Mundango Nyirenda and Zainab Hassan held a press conference in Lilongwe this morning.
Journalist Gondwe was arrested on Tuesday after his Platform for Investigative Journalism quoted a letter purported to be a legal opinion from the Attorney General Nyirenda to ACB Director Martha Chizuma, regarding payments that are to be made to Zuneth Sattar’s company, whose contracts with government were publicly terminated pending investigations.
After the letter was leaked, Nyirenda threatened to take legal action against those responsible.
The activists believe that Gondwe was arrested so that he should testify against Chizuma whose office is accused of leaking the document.
“We, the civil rights activists and concerned citizens group, have critically analysed the events surrounding the arrest of journalist Gondwe and the publication of the PIJ article on the AG Nyirenda’s purported legal opinion, and have concluded that the Tonse Alliance administration is spending sleepless nights scheming to get rid of Martha Chizuma
“The state agencies and some public officers are combing through Chizuma’s operational space to build a case against her and eventually have her arrested
thereby clearing the way for government to do as it pleases with corruption cases that are tarnishing its image,” the activists said in a statement.
The activists then declared that they are standing in defence of Martha Chizuma, and they concluded that Nyirenda has lost moral ground to continue serving in such a high office.
They have since demanded the resignation or firing of Nyirenda.
“The public may wish to recall that we recently demanded President Chakwera to fire the Director of Public Prosecutions Dr. Steven Kayuni on grounds that he is putting spanners into ACB’s works. Today, we add on President Chakwera’s chopping list AG Nyirenda and MPS Inspector General Dr. George Kainja.
“If these public officers do not resign, or are not fired in the next fourteen days (14), we will be forced to launch never ending vigils at the Capital Hill and other designated places to be announced in due course,” the activists said.
Speaking in an interview, Namiwa also reminded President Chakwera that Malawi is not a police state and that freedom of the press and freedom of expression are non-negotiable.
He said the freedoms were already there when Chakwera was campaigning to become president and he will leave them after his presidency.