Malawian investigative journalist Gregory Gondwe is in hiding after allegedly facing military threats from the Malawi Defence Force (MDF).
This comes after Gondwe, working for the Platform for Investigative Journalism (PIJ), exposed the payments that the MDF allegedly made to businessman Zuneth Sattar.
Sattar is reportedly being investigated by Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Gondwe is currently hiding after shedding light on the happenings within the army.
He took to his Facebook page yesterday to report that he is now in a perilous situation.
“This isn’t just about legal threats, which I was prepared to face head-on. Yesterday, top government officials confirmed that the MDF intended to arrest me for allegedly “endangering state security” – a vague and ominous accusation,” Gondwe wrote.
He said given the potential for his situation to be ‘accidentalised’ with a seemingly plausible explanation, he has taken the advice to protect himself.
“I’m aware that those who don’t share my perspective, or who may align with political parties of their liking, might trivialise my fears. But the reality is stark: an MDF intelligence officer can appear ordinary while harbouring lethal intentions,” Gondwe added.
Despite threats, Gondwe wrote that he will remain committed to his journalistic duties.
According to the story titled ‘Chakwera still in bed with Zuneth Sattar: Treasury pays US$4,98 million for armoured carriers amid corruption allegations’, Gondwe wrote that in a move that contradicts Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera’s stance on corruption, the MDF has made a substantial payment to a firm associated with businessman Sattar, who is currently under scrutiny for alleged corrupt practices.
“This transaction, involving a US$4,98 million payment, forms part of a larger deal amounting to US$19,93 million for the procurement of 32 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs),” the story reads.
Gondwe wrote that the development raises questions about the Malawian government’s commitment to combating corruption, especially in light of the ongoing investigations surrounding Sattar.
“The direct involvement of the MDF in this transaction, despite the broader context of corruption allegations, underscores a complex scenario in Malawi’s efforts to uphold integrity in public procurement and defence dealings,” he wrote.
MALAWI MISA CONDEMNS THREATS
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi yesterday in a press statement expressed concern about threats against Gondwe.
Misa Malawi noted that it has engaged army commander general Paul Velentino Phiri and attorney general Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda on the matter.
Both Phiri and Nyirenda have assured them that there are no plans to arrest Gondwe or intimidate him for writing the story, noted Misa Malawi.
“We hope and trust that these assurances are true and sincere. We would like to remind government bodies and all citizens that threats on journalists are retrogressive and a threat to democracy.”
Misa Malawi noted that if the MDF or any other concerned parties have an issue with the media, they should use proper channels to raise such issues, but military interrogations and threats are not among those channels.
“The threats on Gondwe’s life have a chilling effect on journalists and the media fraternity. As a democracy, Malawi should not slide back to the era of heavy-handedness on media and critical voices.”
Misa Malawi noted that it would continue engaging the MDF leadership and the office of the attorney general to ensure Gondwe’s safety and a free and conducive media operating environment.
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