Deputy Minister of Transport and Public Works Honourable Charles Mchacha has apologised for verbally attacking and intimidating Nation Publications Limited (NPL) journalist Bobby Kabango.
MISA Malawi has confirmed the development in a statement.
Honourable Mchacha used all sorts of vulgar words in a recorded phone conversation with Kabango who was pursuing a story on how the Deputy Minister allegedly acquired public land in Limbe, Blantyre.
"On Tuesday, February 11, 2020, Honourable Mchacha went to NPL offices in Blantyre to apologise for his behaviour. Honourable Mchacha apologised in the presence of MISA Malawi National Governing Council (NGC) member Mandy Pondani, Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba and NPL officials," reads the statement.
During the meeting, Mchacha said he respects journalists and appreciates the role the mediaplays in a democracy.
“It was sad that we failed to understand each other and handle the situation well. So, I am here to apologise to my friend [ Bobby] and the entire Nation management for the words I uttered to Bobby Kabango,” Mchacha said.
Both Kabango and NPL Deputy CEO Alfred Ntonga accepted the apology.
Speaking during the meeting, Pondani appealed to the minister, other ministers and government officials to be exemplary and uphold and respect human rights, including media freedom and freedom of expression.
“You hold senior public positions and your conduct should befit those positions. As journalists we also work to promote public good and we want to feel safe when doing our work. It’s intimidating and scary when senior government officials attack instead of protecting us,”Pondani said.
MISA Malawi wrote Mchacha demanding a public apology for verbally attacking and intimidating Kabango.
The Chapter also asked Minister of Information, Mark Botomani, to disassociate government from Mchacha’s conduct and assure the nation that Mchacha’s actions were not a reflection of government policy to threaten and intimidate journalists working to uphold principles of transparency and accountability in a nation whose constitution guarantees media freedom.
"Mchacha’s actions were a violation of media freedom and freedom of expression and could bne construed as government attempts to silence journalists in the country," concludes the statement signed by Misa Malawi chairperson Theresa Ndanga