Malawi’s renowned investigative journalist Gregory Gondwe, is in hiding after receiving what he described as death threats for writing a story which exposed how the Lazarus Chakwera led administration is still doing business with corruption suspect Zuneth Sattar.
Earlier this week, Gondwe who is the Editorial Director of Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ) released a story which exposed how government through the Malawi Defense Force (MDF) have secretly paid a company linked to corruption suspect Sattar, 8.4 billion kwacha in a deal for 32 Armoured Personal Carriers.
Following the article which got published on PIJ platforms, it is reported that some anonymous military sources tipped Gondwe that he is being hunted by the men in uniform over what they are describing as interference with the state security.
Confirming about the threats through his Facebook page, Gondwe said looking at the dire situation, he has resorted to go hiding claiming from what he has encountered, the situation is no longer a legal battle and went further to say life is irreplaceable.
“In the wake of my second exposé concerning Zuneth Sattar and the Malawi Defence Force (MDF), I find myself in a perilous situation. Military sources, the same ones who urged me to shed light on the happenings within the army, have now advised me to go into hiding. This isn’t just about legal threats, which I was prepared to face head-on.
“Yesterday, top government officials confirmed that the MDF intended to ‘arrest’ me for allegedly “endangering state security”—a vague and ominous accusation. Given the potential for my situation to be ‘accidentalised’ with a seemingly plausible explanation posthumously, I’ve heeded the advice to protect myself. In this line of work, death can be disguised as an accident, and no hospital can revive a life once lost.
“I’m aware that those who don’t share my perspective, or who may align with political parties of their liking, might trivialize my fears. But the reality is stark: an MDF intelligence officer can appear ordinary while harbouring lethal intentions. We have deaths whose circumstances remain unexplained in this country, and everyone goes back to their business in the aftermath,” goes one part of Gondwe’s post.
He further added that the military believes it has a leak, and they think addressing it through him will solve their problems. However, he says the real solution lies in ensuring that public resources in a country as impoverished as Malawi are used rightly.
Meanwhile, MISA Malawi, through a press statement signed by its president Golden Matonga, has condemned the threats and called on authorities to make sure that the investigative journalist is well protected and safe.
In the statement, Matonga said “MISA Malawi engaged the Army Commander General Paul Velentino Phiri and the Attorney General (AG) Honourable Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda on the matter and they have both assured us that there are no plans to arrest Gondwe or intimidate him for writing the story. We hope and trust that these assurances are true and sincere.”
The body has then reminded government bodies and all citizens that threats on journalists are retrogressive and a threat to democracy and says they believe that if MDF or any other concerned parties have an issue with the media, they should use proper channels to raise such issues, but military interrogations and threats are not among those channels.
“The threats on Gondwe’s life have a chilling effect on journalists and the media fraternity. As a democracy, Malawi should not slide back to the era of heavy-handedness on media and critical voices,” reads another part of MISA statement.
MISA says it will continue engaging the leadership at MDF and the office of the Attorney General to ensure the safety of Gondwe and a free and conducive media operating environment