Minister of Foreign Affairs Eisenhower Mkaka has sued Gitta Phiri and Manes Winnie Chitedze Hale over a Facebook post alleging that he received a K300 million bribe.
According to court documents, the two alleged that Mkaka received the bribe from David Whitehead and Sons Limited owner Faizal Latif to shield him from a K22 billion duty evasion scam.
The two, in their purported Facebook posts, alleged that Latif has been smuggling containers of truck tyres disguised as textile for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP); hence, bribed Mkaka so that the illegal activities should go unreported.
The court documents further claim that the posts were made on separate occasions on April 19 by the two with Phiri, the first defendant in the case, being the first to post about the alleged bribery.
In her purported post, Phiri alleged that Latif has been smuggling containers of the truck tyres for the past five years.
Wrote Phiri: “The duty he [Latif] has been avoiding is about K22 billion. The guy has bribed everyone kuti nkhani isatuluke [so that the story doesn’t come out] that’s why nobody is talking about it.
“Honourable Mkaka, Minister of Foreign Af fairs, chonde K300 million mwalandila ya bribe yo ikatha mutiyankhule a Malawi anzanufe [when the K300 million bribe is finished please talk to us Malawians].”
The court documents further indicate that on the same April 19, the second defendant Hale, who is known on her Facebook page as Manice Abiti William Dawood, re-posted Phiri’s purported post with further degrading remarks.
“Eisenhower Mkaka has been implicated in this saga, they say he received K300 million. Gitta is a journalist, ndikanalemba ine [if I had written that] you could have called me all sorts of names including hule [prostitute],” reads her purported post.
The minister, who is demanding damages for libel including aggravated compensatory damages, a retraction of the publication, a public apology and costs of the case, in an interview
to sue the two to protect his name. yesterday said he decided Said Mkaka: “The case in point is what Gitta and Manice have done to me. They spread falsehoods to the effect that I received K300 million from Mr Faizal without producing any evidence.
“The Malawi Revenue Authority [MRA] is freely pursuing the matter without any political influence. One clearly sees, in this case, malice and ill-will in the spread of falsehoods.”
The minister, who is also MCP secretary general, said it is irresponsible for anyone to spread unconfirmed stories without first checking with the affected parties.
W hile admitting that social media has brought transparency and accountability, he bemoaned that some misguided individuals misuse social media to damage other people’s reputation.
In an interview yesterday, MRA head of corporate affairs Steve Kapoloma said they are investigating Latif on the matter and that they will deal with outcomes of the investigation in accordance with procedures under the country’s stated tax laws.
He said: “With the authority of a search warrant issued by the resident magistrate’s court, MRA is undertaking investigations into the alleged importation of assorted goods such as fabric and accessories, various types of tyres and other goods.
“This is being done in respect of offences of tax evasion and tax fraud suspected to have been committed contrary to provisions of the Customs and Excise Act, Taxation Act and Value Added Act.”
In a related development, police in Lilongwe last week arrested Ignatius Kamwanje for alleging in a Facebook post that National Bank of Malawi (NBM) is deducting money from its customers without their knowledge.
It is alleged that on March 27 this year, Kamwanje, who has since been released on bail, wrote on his Facebook page that the bank is stealing from its customers through the alleged dubious transactions.
Central West Region Police spokesperson Alfred Chimthere said Kamwanje was arrested following a complaint from NBM. According to the spokesperson, prior to his arrest, Kamwanje was questioned in relation to Section 91 of the Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act of 2016.