Current Affairs Malawi team has come across a peculiar communique and it reads ..
17th January, 2020
TO: The Director General
Malawi Broadcasting Corporation
And To: Matilda Mkandawire
C/O Malawi Broadcasting Corporation
(Delivered by hand)
RE: IN THE MATTER OF DEFEAMATORY STATEMENT BY YOUR NEWS
PRESENTER, MS. MATILDA MKANDAWIRE
We act for and on behalf of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (‘our client’). Our client is a
registered human rights organisation. It has the legal personality to sue and to be sued and has a
large following as well as diverse membership. Our client stands for principles of human rights.
Our client therefore stands against any form of human rights violations including corruption and
Our clients organized very peaceful nation-wide demonstrations on or about the 16th of January,
- These demonstrations were well patronized by Malawians from all walks of life. On the
same day, your radio station in its evening news bulletin presented by one Ms. Matilda
Mkandawire described our client in Chichewa as ‘….bungwe lazawuchifwamba la Human
Rights Defenders Coalition.’ In its literal sense, the statement meant: ‘…..Human Rights
Defenders Coalition, a terrorist organization…’. Our client notes and is dismayed by the fact
this description was also once made by the President of this country and broadcast by your
Any reasonable person (natural or otherwise) would not want to associate with our client given
the connotations associated with terrorism. Terrorism is not only a moral vice but is also a crime
under our laws as well as international criminal law. The words published were therefore very
defamatory and contrary to the values and principles on which our client’s organisation is based.
Your institution has undoubtably one of the largest local audience and is funded by public
finances. The said news bulletin was in vernacular language and it had the propensity to reach
the widest possible audience in Malawi and beyond. At the end of the news item, your announcer
referred the audience to your institution’s website to listen to the news item. As a result of the
reference to the website, a lot of Malawians and non-Malawians went ahead to download the said news item and further circulated it on social media and other internet platforms, further injuring
the reputation of our client.
As a direct result of Ms. Matilda Mkandawire’s actions which were duly sanctioned by your
institution, therefore, our client’s reputation has been injured. Your institution has several layers
of quality control and our client has no doubt that this broadcast was sanctioned by your
institution. In any case, your institution would be vicariously liable for the actions of your
presenter, Ms. Matilda Mkandawire.
In light of the foregoing, our client has instructed us to write you and demand the following:
a. THAT your institution broadcasts for seven days, a retraction and an apology for the
damage caused to our client. The publication of the apologies should commence 48 hours
b. THAT in addition, within the same period your institution should publish on its website
as well as its social media networks the said apology and retraction. Likewise, this should
be done within the next 48 hours.
c. THAT in addition, your institution pays MK200,000,000.00 (Two Hundred Million
Malawi Kwacha only) as damages as well costs for the injury caused on our client’s
Be advised that our instructions are to commence legal proceedings against your institution as
well as against Ms. Matilda Mkandawire if the above demands are not meant or if we do not hear
from you on or before the 27th of January, 2020.
Legal Practitioners for HRDC.