Chisa Mbele was to be main convenor alongside Levi Luwemba
* DC maintains that this has be reached at after further consultations with all necessary stakeholders
* Wasn’t a precedence made when people demonstrated against a system that was still under Constitutional Court from 2019-2020?
* HRDC held those demonstrations in solidarity from the then Leader of Opposition and eventual President elected in 2020
By Duncan Mlanjira
In what has been described as application of double standards, Lilongwe District Council has canceled the permission which was granted to concerned citizens to demonstrate against corruption suspect Ashok Kumar Streedharan’s lawsuit against Martha Chizuma for alleged defamation.
The concerned citizens’ grouping — trending as ‘Citizens Against Impunity and Corruption’, led by for social rights activists Joshua Chisa Mbele and Levi Luwemba — says it is “a congregation of well-meaning and patriotic citizens who have mobilized themselves to stand against impunity and government’s unfathmable tolerance to corruption”.
In its letter seeking approval for the legal demonstrations to Ashok’s house scheduled for Wednesday, March 2 — signed by the grouping’s spokesperson Silvester Ayuba — applied to march from Simama Hotel to Ashok’s house in Area 9 via Lilongwe Town Hall and Maula.
The letter to Lilongwe District Commissioner, copied to the officer in charge for Lilongwe Police said: “We have decided to meet this man so that he knows us and we also know him, in person”.
“The demonstrations are a direct result of Mr. Ashok Kumar Streedharan, a corruption suspect, to sue the people’s Director General Martha Chizuma in her personal capacity, on matters arising from the very case in which Mr Ashok is being sought to be prosecuted.”
The Council gave the permission (reference No. LLSC/ASM/1/V/39) on February 25 for the demonstration planned for Wednesday March 2 but it changed its mind, saying this has been reached at “after further consultations with all necessary stakeholders”.
In his letter to Ayuba, the DC said some stakeholders held their reservations after they observed that the issue they wished to demonstrate against is still at the Lilongwe Civil Registry of the High Court.
“We hope you will find our observation important and relevant,” said the DC but analysts described the justification as lame and an application of double standards because a precedence was made in which people demonstrated against a system that was still in court from 2019-2020.
This was when Human Right Defenders Coalition (HRDC) — with solidarity from the then Leader of Opposition and eventual President elected in 2020 — held national demonstration whilst the Constitutional Court was hearing the case of the disputed 2019 Presidential elections.
This could also be viewed as efforts to repulse Chisa Mbele, who was arrested in January for making allegations on social media that Malawi Defence Force Commander, General Vincent Nundwe corruptly benefitted a sum of K4 billion from deals with Zuneth Sattar.
Last year, Chisa Mbele was also forced to obey a Lilongwe High Court order that directed him to issue a public apology to Nick Chakwera, son to State President Lazarus Chakwera, over alleged defamatory remarks he made on social media Facebook linking him to the infamous plunder of the K6.2 billion CoVID-19 funds.
The Court also directed Chisa Mbele to retract the offending publication by permanently deleting it in its entirety from his Facebook wall, which Mbele announced on Facebook the same day of the court order — Wednesday, August 4, 2021.
He was also ordered to publish the apology in two most circulating daily newspapers — The Daily Times and The Nation — twice every week for 4 consecutive weeks, which Mbele said he was in the process of obeying.
He issued a statement on Facebook that he had “unreservedly and unconditionally apologized to Nick Chakwera, saying “the defamatory statement was erroneously attributed” to him but “nevertheless issued the apology, not withstanding the circumstances”.
The public is in great consternation that corruption suspect Ashok is suing ACB Director General, Martha Chizuma on matters arising from the very case in which he is being sought to be prosecuted by the ACB.
Ashok, who was arrested alongside former Minister of Lands, Kezzie Msukwa over corruption charges in relation to some land issues in Lilongwe, sued Chizuma for defamation over a case that relates to a leaked audio clip that went viral on social media in January.
In the leaked audio month, Chizuma alleged that there was an element of corruption when Ashok was released from custody on bail and summons from Lilongwe District Registry of the High Court Civil Case No. 62 of 2022, indicated that Ashok is demanding damages from Chizuma allegedly for putting his “name in bad light” arguing that the it “demeaned his character”.
“By the said words in their natural and ordinary meaning the defendant meant and was understood to mean that the claimant is an extremely corrupt person; that the claimant corrupted a Judge to have him released from custody,” said the Summons.
Ashok goes further to gain sympathy from the justice system by adding to the charges that Chizuma’s statement in the audio puts Ashok as being “so corrupt that the whole justice will not help” and that Ashok “is a criminal who has committed an offence punishable with imprisonment”.
Ashok, Msukwa were arrested by the ACB in relation to corruption investigation being undertaking involving Sattar, Batawalala and other business associates being carried out by the ACB in collaboration with Britain’s National Crimes Agency in relation to some deals with the government of Malawi.