Taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has agreed to pay Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya K3.5 million as compensation for linking him to a case of his personal assistant arrested on a theft charge.
The story was aired on MBC radio and television and published on its website on April 15 2016, but Msowoya said that linking him to the story “ordinarily meant and were understood to mean that Msowoya is a crook, untrustworthy, dishonest, corrupt, a thief, a pervert and a criminal”.
In a consent judgement dated June 23 2017, the High Court has endorsed that MBC should retract the story and air an apology during five successive news bulletins on both radio and television in Chichewa and English.
The court has also endorsed that MBC should pay K2.5 million as damages for defamation, distress, embarrassment and incovenience effective June 21 2017.
Reads the judgement: “The parties have agreed terms of compromise and considering to an order being drawn in such terms as hereinafter provided: The defendant do pay the sum of K1 million as party and party costs by June 21 2017. That upon default, the plaintiff be at liberty to execute against the defendant.”
The story aired on MBC radio and TV stated that Msowoya’s personal assistant, Patrick Kayira, was in police custody for breaking into Capital Hill offices and stealing a laptop computer belonging to one of the deputy directors in the Ministry of Finance.
In his statement filed on May 11 2016, Msowoya’s lawyers, Lloyds and Associates, indicated that MBC’s news item said Kayira confessed to police that he was targeting information that was meant for political masters who needed it for Parliament.
Msowoya argued that the publishing of the statements was influenced by malice or ill-will and was an unjustified attack on the Speaker’s reputation.
In its initial defence, MBC denied that the words in the story were meant to portray the Speaker as a crook, untrustworthy, dishonest, corrupt, a thief, a pervert and a criminal. n