- Malawian media have been cautioned by government against reporting on allegations of misconduct of former a Justice Minister. Media watchdogs fear the Malawian press is coming under greater pressure as tho 2009 elections approach.
Bazuka Mhango, who was fired from cabinet over a year ago, warned media not to report on allegations leveled against him by fellow parliamentarian Mr Ibrahim Matola, an opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) legislator.
Mr Matola alleged that Mr Mhango received US$ 310,000 from government legal fees as a cabinet member during tabling of 2008/09 national budget.
Mr Mhango threatened media saying his case was in court, and that parliamentary privileges do not extend to media.
Although parliamentarian have privillages which entitles them to talk of cases in courts inside parliament, Mr Mhango said he would press charges against Mr Matola for having discussed his case outside parliament.
Member of Parliament for Blantyre South West Gerald Mponda differed with Mr Mhango, saying former minister has no right to stop media from reporting on parliamentary proceedings.
Mr Mponda said the press is at liberty to report on all parliamentary proceedings and therefore should not be intimidated.
Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jones Chingola, who was presiding over deliberations, did not make any ruling on Mhango's threats against media.
Mr Mhango has clashed with fellow opposition parliamentarians accusing him of corruption for occupying a ministerial house despite being dropped from cabinet. But Mhango denied the accusations, arguing he entered into a private arrangement with Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) while he was a minister to pay rentals directly to the corporation.
Malawian, a former British protectorate became an independent nation 1964. After three decades of one-party rule under President Hastings Kamuzu Banda the country held its first multiparty elections in 1994.
Current President Bingu wa Mutharika was elected in May 2004 after a failed attempt by previous President Bakili Muluzi to amend the constitution to permit another term. Both ex-President Muluzi and President Mutharika have announced they will stand for re-election in 2009, causing a tense political situation in the country.
As the political situation grows tenser, media watchdogs are registering a growing number of attacks on the press.
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