The High Court in Blantyre has ordered Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to surrender alleged recordings of defamatory statements in a case in which former first lady Callista Mutharika sued the State broadcaster.
Callista Mutharika sued MBC, alongside Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secretary general (SG) Greselder Jeffrey, in June last year, accusing the SG of defaming her and MBC of broadcasting the alleged defamatory statement during a political rally in Thyolo District on June 2 2018.
It is alleged that during the rally, Jeffrey accused the former first lady of killing her husband, former president Bingu wa Mutharika, in April 2012.
But according to court documents, MBC, the second defendant in the case, denies broadcasting the alleged defamatory statement.
Hence, Callista through her lawyer Ambokire Salimu applied to the court that MBC should produce recordings of the rally on June 2 2018 when the alleged statement was made.
In her application, Callista also wants Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) to be a party to the case.
However, court documents indicate that as per order 17 rule 49, the courts will issue a notice that Macra only disclose the broadcasting of MBC of the said defamatory statement within seven days from July 16 when the order was made.
Since MBC denies broadcasting the rally where the alleged statement was made, the court has also directed the State broadcaster to produce the programmes for June 2 2018 when the alleged defamatory statement was made.
Besides, the court has also directed all parties involved in the case to file their witness statements and skeleton arguments within 30 days from July 16 when the order was made.
When contacted on Monday, one of the lawyers representing MBC in the case, Joseph Lihoma, said they will comply with the order.
However, he said no fixed trial date has been set as the presiding Judge Mike Tembo is also involved in the ongoing May 21 Tripartite Elections case. He said the date may probably be set in October.
Efforts to speak to Callista Mutharika’s lawyer, Salimu proved futile as he did not pick our calls on numerous attempts neither did he respond to our questionnaire.
According to records, the late Bingu, elder brother to the incumbent President Peter Mutharika, died of cardiac arrest after collapsing in his office at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on April 5 2012.